DENVER (AP) — A former U.S. Air Force Academy official who was harshly criticized for her handling of sexual assaults said the school made her a scapegoat and that commanders are downplaying the number of attacks.
Teresa Beasley told “CBS This Morning” that she faced retaliation for arguing that the school was underreporting sexual assaults and that victims were facing retaliation. Her claims aired Monday and Tuesday.
The academy released a report last month accusing Beasley of mismanaging the school’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, which she ran for a decade. The report said the office was crippled by infighting, rumors and shoddy record-keeping and that it was derelict in its duties.
The report said Beasley should be fired, but she resigned instead. She had overseen the office since 2007.
Beasley told CBS that the school wanted to fire her because she challenged commanders over their treatment of victims.
“You have to stand up to people who mistreat others and who oppress others. And I did that. And they didn’t like it,” she said.
The academy has struggled for years to address assaults and other sexual misconduct and has been accused before of badly mistreating victims.
The network’s reports did not include any direct response from Beasley about the specific allegations the academy made about her performance. No working phone number could be found for her.
Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the academy, disputed Beasley’s claim that she was a scapegoat. He told The Associated Press on Wednesday that other staffers in her office were disciplined, but he declined to say what action they faced, citing privacy laws.
Herritage said the academy identified Beasley by name because she had already discussed the issues publicly. He acknowledged that some cadets face retaliation from other cadets for reporting sexual assault.
“Yes, we know that happens, and we do our level best to stamp it out,” he said.
Beasley alleged the academy did not include 16 sexual assaults in its report to the Defense Department and Congress for the 2014-15 school year because of a technicality — the cadets declined to sign a form. She said the academy did not want to include those reports because they would have resulted in a record number of assaults.
Dominic Angiollo, an attorney at the academy, told the AP that the school included the 16 assaults in its initial report but the Defense Department removed them because the signed forms are required to document attacks.
CBS reported it had been told by more than a dozen current and former Air Force Academy cadets that they faced retaliation from other cadets and commanders for reporting sexual assault. It wasn’t clear how far back the reports were made.
Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the academy’s superintendent, told the network Tuesday that he was “disgusted” by the reports of sexual assault victims being mistreated.
“It’s been very clear that I expect the cadets and the faculty and the staff to treat each other with respect and dignity,” said Silveria, who took over the job in August after his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, retired.
He said the academy has multiple programs in place to support assault victims.
Silveria contradicted Beasley’s claim that the academy is downplaying its sexual assault numbers. He said he hopes the number of cadets who speak up about sexual assault increases because the crime is underreported nationwide.