Monday, August 13, 2007

who will protect us from the protectors?

This year's ugly irony award has got to go to the case of 20-year-old Airman Cassandra M. Hernandez, who now faces court-martial after refusing to testify against three men she accused of raping her. Hernandez told WRAL, a CBS affiliate in North Carolina, that she'd been gang-raped by three fellow airmen after a party on May 16, 2006, but chose not to testify after feeling pressured by the Air Force and meeting with one of the defense attorneys without her victim's advocate. In a letter (quoted by addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Hernandez explained that "under enormous stress and after consultation with the legal office, I made the decision not to testify ... the pressure of the judicial process was too much for me, and I felt like no one was looking out for my interests."

And what is Hernandez's reward for succumbing to intimidation -- I mean legal advice -- from the other side? The Air Force has charged her with committing "indecent acts" with the three men, as well as underage drinking. (As Feministing notes, the definition of indecent act according to military code seems slippery at best.) But that's not even the weirdest part: The three accused officers have been granted immunity in return for their testimony against her. If Hernandez is telling the truth, she's effectively being prosecuted for her own rape.

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