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'This is long overdue:' Changes ahead for National Guard after report

NOW: ’This is long overdue:’ Changes ahead for National Guard after report

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Gov. Tony Evers is calling on sweeping changes of the Wisconsin National Guard’s policies and protocols regarding sexual assault and harassment following a months-long investigation into the Guard’s mishandling of cases over several years.

The report by the National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations led to Evers asking for and receiving the resignation letter of Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar on Monday, Dec. 9.

According to the report, the Wisconsin National Guard violated federal law and polices of how to handle sexual assault and harassment allegations. Specifically, the Guard made “deliberate decisions” to conduct internal investigations into cases, instead of contacting outside agencies like local police.

This led to years of cases being mishandled, according to the report released Monday.

The report made several recommendations for the Guard to implement in order to prevent future mishandlings.

An executive order by Gov. Evers requires the National Guard to implement those changes by September of 2020.

“Having the governor pay attention in the way he is now will go a long ways,” said Erin Thornley Parisi, the Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center of Dane County. “It’s more than time to make these changes to the National Guard.”

The Rape Crisis Center has worked with the National Guard upon request in the past for sexual assault response training. Parisi believes it’s those kinds of partnerships are necessary for groups like the Guard to be able to conduct proper investigations of misconduct, especially in the military, where victims and survivors of sexual assault and harassment face different challenges than the civilian population.

“With any system that self regulates or self-monitors itself, […] often, the actual perpetrator is part of the investigation or is the boss of somebody who’s investigating,” Parisi told CBS 58. “And there’s a lot to lose for the perpetrator. But the survivors tend to be more expendable than the perpetrators are. And that’s really sad, that’s got to change.”

Parisi said it is unfortunate for the issue to reach this level, but is optimistic the report, Dunbar’s resignation and the attention on the National Guard will lead to the change necessary to protect members of the Guard.

“When outside sources, outside systems should’ve been brought in, they weren’t. [Organizations that self-monitor] lose perspective within their own system, and so I think they need to invite outsiders to come in.”

 RESOURCES

  • You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673). The hotline is operated by RAINN in partnership with more than 1,000 sexual assault service providers throughout the country, including Wisconsin.
  • The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault provides a detailed listing of sexual assault service providers throughout Wisconsin. You can locate the listing here.

Reporting new misconduct:

  • If you believe criminal misconduct has occurred, contact local law enforcement.
  • You can also email the Governor’s Office about the matter. The email address is NationalGuardAssessment@wisconsin.gov.

Reporting retaliation

If you are being retaliated against by the Wisconsin National Guard, you can file a complaint with the Department of Defense’s Inspector General by calling 1-800-424-9098 or sending an email to hotline@dodig.osd.mil.


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