Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Colorado congressman concerned with Air Force Academy sex assault figures

February 16, 2015
In The News

The Air Force Academy and its ongoing issues with sexual assault have gained a new watchdog in Congress.

Greeley Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who took office last month after cruising to victory in November's election, says issues of sexual assault at the school have earned his scrutiny.

"I am interested as a prosecutor, I'm interested as a husband and the father of a daughter and the father of son who attended a service academy," Buck said.

Reported sexual assaults at the academy fell in 2014, according to a Pentagon report issued last week. But other numbers trouble Buck. A survey of women at the school showed 10 percent faced unwanted sexual contact in the past academic year, and 20 percent claimed they had suffered unwanted sexual contact at some point during their academy career.

"It's something we have got to get right," Buck said.

Buck, who spent 30 years as prosecuting attorney for the U.S. Justice Department and Weld County, has seen his share of rape cases. The congressman said he knows that sexual assaults are more common in the age groups that attend the academy. Recent studies found that one in five college women have reported facing sexual assault - about the same rate as Air Force.

But Buck, whose son attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., says military academies cannot settle for having the same problems as civilian colleges.

"What's so upsetting about the academy is that is the future leadership of our Air Force," Buck said.

The congressman said he wants to be clear that the vast majority of cadets are America's best young people who uphold the nation's values.

"It is a few engaged in this behavior and we should not impugn the rest of the cadets," he said.

But having even a few bad apples is unacceptable, he said.

Buck hasn't drawn conclusions on what, if anything, should be done about sexual assaults at Air Force. He said his next step is learning more about what has happened at the school and what the brass is doing to prevent it.

"I intend to set up a meeting with the leadership at the Air Force Academy," Buck said. "I believe the leadership there is taking it seriously."

The academy is under scrutiny from the Defense Department's Inspector General with an investigation to determine if it properly handled allegations of athlete misconduct, including sexual assault. The Pentagon hasn't said when it will conclude that investigation.

Buck said his experience as a prosecutor points to one focus area in countering sexual assault.

"Alcohol is often a factor. It is just something as much as possible the academy needs to address," he said.