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Abuse of Power Alleged in the Nevada Air Guard

Nevada Air Guard member says her superior officer sexually assaulted her multiple times
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 1:19 AM PDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 1:22 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A member of the Nevada Air Guard says she was sexually assaulted multiple times by her superior officer. The airman wished to stay anonymous because she said her abuser threatened her if she spoke out.

“He was supposed to be mentoring me. And then it just turned into him getting on top of me, holding me down, fighting me. I mean it felt like it was forever,” she said.

The woman said the abuse was so bad that it took her months to talk about it because her master sergeant, also her abuser, threatened her multiple times.

“Texting me telling me you know your life is over if anybody finds out about this.” she said.

After months of abuse, she reached a breaking point and reported what was happening to the Nevada Air Guard and filed a report with the Reno Police Department in November of 2019.

An Air Guard officer “stated that they would finally send me for the physical, which all of a sudden turned into no we’re only sending you for mental, so we can give you a mental diagnosis,” she said.

Senator Jacky Rosen’s office then stepped in. Rosen’s office said it cannot comment on active cases but released a statement to KOLO 8 News Now.

“Senator Rosen takes all allegations of sexual assault and misconduct extremely seriously. Senator Rosen believes that the Nevada National Guard should be a safe place to work, and that no member of the National Guard should endure sexual assault or harassment, or fear retaliation for speaking out,” Ivana Brancaccio, spokesperson for Senator Rosen, said.

“Some occasions involved me being drugged and sodomized by him and other occasions he would hold me down choking me, while raping me.”

“Some occasions involved me being drugged and sodomized by him and other occasions he would hold me down choking me, while raping me.”

Nevada Air Guard member who says she was sexually assaulted.

Medical records obtained from the survivor’s physician back her account up. The doctor wrote, “this is very common after sexual assaults.”

The woman said it was devastating learning that the Nevada Air Guard did not back her up.

“The minute I reported, they just gave up and said we don’t want her.,” she said. “Instead of like, well our airman got hurt, like you would do with someone in combat, you’re not just going to let that guy out there be injured and die, but it was basically like there’s our injured airman, we’re not going to help you.”

But her advocate, John Stites, does have her back and said something needs to be done.

“Oh she’s tough,” Stites said. “I think what she did here today was amazing. I sat through that entire crime interview and I had to move around a little bit because I was in the same room, hearing what she went through really teed me off.”

The Reno Police Department investigated her case and told KOLO 8 News Now that “there was no probable cause,” so the case was closed. However, separate cases are still being investigated in six other jurisdictions across Nevada where she said the abuse also happened.

She did get a restraining order, but it expires at the end of 2020.

The Nevada Air Guard released a statement saying, ““The Nevada Air National Guard take accusations of harassment and assault very seriously. The Nevada Air National Guard provides numerous resources for Airmen and civilian employees filing a complaint of sexual assault, including access to a victim advocate, specially-trained legal counsel, medical treatment and behavioral health services. The Nevada Air National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) helped the accuser file a report with the Reno Police Department. The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at the 152nd Airlift Wing and Nevada Guard Joint Force Headquarters were requested to ensure the member filing the complaint has been and continues to be made aware of resources available. Additionally, a command-directed military protective order was put in place immediately to remove the alleged perpetrator from the work area at the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno and has been permanently assigned to Carson City, 30 miles away. The allegations that you are referencing were investigated by the Reno police department and several other jurisdictions. Reno PD concluded that no charges would be filed.”

The Nevada Air Guard also confirmed that the accused master sergeant was removed from his full time position on May 22, 2020. However, he is still a part time member of the Guard.

The woman said what’s been done is not nearly enough after what she’s been through.

“I want to see him dishonorably discharged and made an example of,” she said. “If you do this you’re getting kicked out. We all know what’s right and wrong and we know sexual assault is not okay.”

And her advocate agreed.

“Should he be in the military? No he should not,” Stites said. “Now, how they’re going to do it, well they better get pretty wizardry, I want to see some wizards out there because this guy is going to do it again.”

Should he be in the military? No, he should not.”

John Stites

But after all of this, she is still determined to continue serving our country.

“I am staying in the military I fought to get there. As long as I’m at that base I’m going to keep fighting for the regulations, the policies, fighting for them to improve the system because nobody else is holding them accountable,” she said.

She said she won’t stop until she gets the long overdue justice she’s been fighting for.

If you or someone you know is a victim, you are asked to email servicemembersmatter@gmail.com.

KOLO 8 News Now did call the man she accused, three times for comment, but did not receive a response. Because he has not been charged yet, we have chosen not to identify him.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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