Rusty Surette, News 9
MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma – An aviator stationed at Tinker Air Force Base has joined a class action lawsuit against the former and current Secretary of Defense.
Fifteen women and two men, both active-duty and veterans of the military, have filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The 17 plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages for being raped, assaulted or harassed while serving in the military by active-duty military members.
A Navy aviator serving at Tinker AFB said she was sexually harassed in her living quarters by her colleagues and when she complained, it would only get worse. In December she said she was forced to go to a holiday party in the metro where she was drugged and then allegedly raped. The lawsuit said investigators closed the case due to "lack of evidence."
It's a similar story for Myla Haider who said she was raped in Korea while serving with the Army's Criminal Investigations Division, the very unit charged with investigating rapes and assaults.
"The people who commit these offenses are sexual predators who are very good at selecting their victims and tend to offend again and again," said Haider.
The lawsuit claims Rumsfeld and Gates failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, prosecute perpetrators, prevent further abuse and provide an adequate justice system. The lawsuit also said the defendants encouraged the plaintiffs and other victims to remain silent and not report any rape or sexual assault.
"People who did believe me and who had my back and were supportive of me were still telling me ‘Don't tell anybody about this. Don't go to the public,'" said former Marine Sarah Albertson.
Two men were also named in the suit. One said he was raped while serving in the Army. The other said he was sexually assaulted several times by several Marines.
The plaintiffs served in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Reserves or Coast Guard.
A spokesperson for Tinker AFB directed questions to the Department of Defense, but the Pentagon refuses to comment on the suit.