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Air Force reprimands officers for sexual misconduct

Texas is both permanent and temporary home to many of this country's military. When it comes to sexual offenses, civilian or military status doesn't make a difference.

According to reports, a female airman filed a formal complaint with the Air Force in 2012 alleging an environment hostile to women. Various incidents of sexual harassment, including finding pornography in print and online in the workplace, were noted. The allegations of violent sexual assaults and other sexual misconduct came from a woman who has a 17-year career in the Air Force.

The Air Force reports do not name the eight accused high-ranking officers at Shaw Air Force Base. Investigating military authorities maintain that high standards of trust and professionalism are required of all Air Force personnel. Tolerating and failing to prevent sexual harassment, allowing alcohol to be consumed during debriefings and condoning sexually offensive materials are some of the charges substantiated over the six-month investigation. The woman first filed a complaint with appropriate offices within the Air Force and then spoke about the allegations to national media.

Reports are that this whistleblowing situation led to the "Health and Welfare Inspection" encompassing Air Force bases in Texas, other states and worldwide. The inspection requires that anything deemed inappropriate must be removed from the workplace. As to the officers involved in this action - two colonels, four lieutenant colonels and a captain - were reprimanded with letters of counseling or admonishment. Reassignment to staff positions was imposed on two, and one has retired.

As in the military world, civilians can experience damage to reputations and lessened opportunities for advancement in a career due to allegations of sexual crimes. Whether the potential for criminal charges and possible imprisonment exists, or the allegations simply result in a black mark on organizational records, it's important to understand what's at stake and determine the proper course of action or defense such cases.

Source: Star-Telegram.com, "Eight officers at Shaw AFB in South Carolina reprimanded after sexual misconduct complaint" Braden Bunch, Oct. 28, 2013

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