Local veteran calls on 2020 presidential candidates to support military rape survivors
By Lexi Nahl
February 02, 2020
|Veteran Harmony Allen pictured the day after she said her instructor raped her. |
|Harmony Allen said she reported the rape multiple times, but the military kept sweeping it under the rug because she was afraid to name her perpetrator.|
A Port St Lucie woman is taking her fight for justice for survivors of military rape to Washington D.C.
Harmony Allen has been pushing for justice since her rapist walked free in 2018.
She says she was raped by her Sergeant on an air force base in Texas 20 years ago.
“He slammed me up against the wall and he held his forearm against my throat,” Allen told CBS12 News of the violent attack.
Her rapist was eventually convicted and sentenced to jail time in 2017, but was released just two years later after a military court of appeals ruled on the statute of limitations for these cases.
The court decided that rapists found guilty in the military could appeal their convictions as long as they committed the crime before 2006 and were not charged within five years of the attack.
Allen's attacker fell under that category.
He now walks free, but Allen is continuing her fight for justice. She traveled to Washington D.C. to tell her story and continues to push lawmakers to end the statute of limitations for military rape cases under “Harmony’s Law.”
She is even taking her individual case to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear her case on March 23, but she’s not stopping there.
Allen has now created a petition to move cases of sexual assault in the military from the hands of commanders into civilian courtrooms, and she says this is just common sense legislation that could help thousands of victims seek justice the same way they could in the civilian world.
“We’re [currently] turning to military members who could’ve been mechanics just because of their rank we’re going to them for justice? I mean we go to cops in the civilian world, prosecutors people who are really trained,” Allen said.
And now, on the Eve of the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, Allen is asking every presidential candidate to show their support for victims and enact legislation to change the system for good.
“[The President] is our commander and chief in the military. They are where the buck stops in the military, so we kind of need them to be on board with this and show military hey I am your commander and chief, and I’m serious about sexual assault,” Allen said.
The petition reads:
The Commitment to Protect Military Women & Men from Sexual Harassment & Assault to Strengthen National Security
For decades, the United States military has been plagued by a crisis of sexual assault, harassment and victim retribution. DOD estimates of sexual assault and rape of active duty members have skyrocketed by 38% and the risk of assault for servicewomen has increased by 50% since 2016. At the military service academies, estimates of sexual assault have doubled since 2014. While sexual assault and rape reports have increased, convictions remain dismally low. And, prosecutions and convictions have plummeted under the existing commander-controlled system. Military women who report sexual assault are 12 times as likely to experience retaliation than to see their attacker convicted of a sex offense.
The women and men who bravely serve our country deserve a workplace free from sexual harassment, abuse and violence. As President and commander-in-chief, I pledge to create in our armed forces a safe and healthy environment where perpetrators are held accountable for their criminal actions. As a core part of this commitment, I will make fundamental reform of the military justice system a priority, empowering independent military prosecutors rather than commanders with the authority to make prosecutorial decisions for serious criminal conduct including rape, murder, sexual assault, and domestic abuse while leaving unique military crimes in the hands of commanders. In doing so, we will free commanders of conflicting responsibilities, improve their ability to maintain good order and discipline, prevent sexual harassment, strengthen national security, and better enable the military to recruit, retain, and promote the nation’s best and brightest.
I understand this to be the collective responsibility of our lawmakers and military leadership and a commitment we owe to our servicewomen and men, our armed forces, and the entire nation."
So far, several big names have signed onto Allen's petition including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
She is only missing signatures from Mike Bloomberg, President Trump, Joe Walsh, and Joe Biden.
Support has so far been bipartisan, and Allen says this is no surprise – this is an issue that anyone can understand.
“This situation is so important that it doesn’t matter what congressional area or state you’re from. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, it affects everybody’s constituents,” Allen said.