Hawaii veteran claims Navy ignored sex assault

Hawaii veteran claims Navy ignored sex assault
Published: May. 5, 2015 at 9:45 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2015 at 10:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new report accuses the military of under-reporting sex-related crimes. A Navy veteran who was stationed in Hawaii alleges her sexual assault 30 years ago was ignored.

The woman we'll call "Kim" wanted her identity hidden because of her pending compensation claim against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"My dad was in the Navy. My uncles were all in the Navy. I love the water so the Navy fit," she said.

"Kim" served four years active duty and ten in the Navy Reserve here in Hawaii. She said in 1985 she and another female sailor were sexually attacked.

"While we were sleeping, one of our fellow sailors crawled in bed between us and sexually assaulted both of us," she said.

"Kim" went to Tripler for treatment and filed a report. She claims her supervising officers threatened to charge her with assault because she defended herself. Her allegations against the alleged assailant went nowhere. She said she knows firsthand how poorly the military handles sex-crime claims.

"People you meet at VA hospitals, a lot of them have been through this and very few report it," she said.

"They can be medically boarded out of the military. So they could lose their job. They could lose their lifestyle. They can lose their livelihood. So it's a huge deal for them to actually report it," said Diane Harr, an attorney with Hawaii Disability Services.

"Kim" said she was threatened. She said it affected her job as a welder at Pearl Harbor.

"I was removed from the shop I was working in. I was transferred," she said.

When she got out of the reserves, "Kim" was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. She can't function well enough to hold down a job. But she is too high-functioning to qualify for Housing First. Her compensation claim alleges the sex assault caused her disabilities.

"There's an actual paper trail, showing from the time of the incident, all the way through to this day, what happened, why it happened, how it happened," she said. "People need to know that there are people out there who need better help."

"Kim" survives on $700 a month. She was living in a veteran's shelter but her time limit ran out. She is now homeless.

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