AP: Child-on-child sex assault cases languish on US bases

By Justin Pritchard and Reese Dunklin, March 14, 2018, ABC News

A decade after the Pentagon began confronting rape in the ranks, the U.S. military frequently fails to protect or provide justice to the children of service members when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Reports of assaults and rapes among kids on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases don't make it that far because criminal investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued.

The Pentagon does not know the scope of the problem and does little to track it. AP was able to document nearly 600 sex assault cases on base since 2007 through dozens of interviews and by piecing together records and data from the military's four main branches and school system.

Sexual violence occurs anywhere children and teens gather on base — homes, schools, playgrounds, food courts, even a chapel bathroom. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

"These are the children that we need to be protecting, the children of our heroes," said Heather Ryan, a former military investigator.

The tens of thousands of kids who live on bases in the U.S. and abroad are not covered by military law. The U.S. Justice Department, which has jurisdiction over many military bases, isn't equipped or inclined to handle cases involving juveniles, so it rarely takes them on.

Federal prosecutors, for example, pursued roughly one in seven juvenile sex offense cases that military investigators presented, according to AP's review of about 100 investigative files from Navy and Marine Corps bases.

In one unprosecuted case from Japan, witnesses confirmed that a 17-year-old boy pulled a 17-year-old girl from a car in a school parking lot and took her to his residence, where she said he raped her. A medical exam of the girl found his semen.

On a U.S. Army base in Germany, Leandra Mulla told investigators that her teenage ex-boyfriend dragged her to a secluded area and thrust his hand down her pants while forcibly trying to kiss her. Four years later, Mulla still wonders what came of her report.

Offenders, meanwhile, typically receive neither therapy nor punishment, and some are shuffled off to other installations or into the civilian world.

In North Carolina, at Camp Lejeune, the coastal training ground for U.S. Marines, a 9-year-old boy admitted to Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators that he had fondled toddlers in his home and classmates at Heroes Elementary School. He said he couldn't help himself.

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