Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 18, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

On Climate, Business as Usual

The Divide

Truthdig Bazaar
When I Was a Child I Read Books

When I Was a Child I Read Books

By Marilynne Robinson

more items


The Dark Side of the Prestigious Marine Barracks

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on May 8, 2012
U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Dengrier Baez

The Silent Drill Platoon, which lives and performs at the Marine Barracks, is one of many sources of pride for the Corps there.

By Col. Ann Wright

(Page 2)

The Marine Corps finally court-martialed one of Klay’s alleged attackers but didn’t convict him of rape, instead finding him guilty of adultery and indecent language (a common escape by military courts from the rape charge). The military court ruled that Klay “consented” to having sex with the men despite the evidence that the accused threatened to kill her.

Klay has attempted suicide since the alleged rapes and harassment and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lt. Elle Helmer

In 2005, Helmer was appointed the public affairs officer for the Barracks, the federal lawsuit says. In 2006, she was selected to also serve as the first female “ceremonial parade staff flanking officer.” Helmer alleged that the “selecting” officer, a Marine captain, made continuing sexual advances to her that she reported to the Marine Barracks equal opportunity officer. Nothing was done to stop the advances, Helmer said.


Square, Site wide
Another superior officer, a major, required Helmer to attend a “pub crawl” for St. Patrick’s Day that had been endorsed by the unit’s colonel, the lawsuit alleges. When Helmer objected to going, she says the major told her that it was a mandatory work event. The pub crawl involved Marine officers identified by the T-shirts they were wearing going from bar to bar on Capitol Hill drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, paid for by the Marine Corps, the lawsuit says. Helmer says she was required to drink shots of liquor at the same pace as the bigger male officers and when she drank water to try to keep herself from becoming intoxicated, she was required by the major to drink an extra shot as a punishment.

Helmer became intoxicated and left the group to find a cab home. She said the major followed her and told her that she must come with him to his office to discuss a business matter. When they reached his office, Helmer alleges, the major tried to kiss her and when she resisted he grabbed her and knocked her over. She says she lost consciousness at that point.

Upon regaining consciousness, she said, she found herself lying on the floor in the major’s office, wearing his shorts. He was allegedly passed out on the floor nearby, naked.

Helmer left the office and reported to the Marine Command that she had been raped. She alleges the colonel there discouraged her from asking for a rape kit examination, saying it would “be out of his hands.” Nonetheless, Helmer got a medical examination that employed a rape kit.

NCIS initially refused to investigate Helmer’s allegations, despite the medical and circumstantial evidence, saying that her inability to recall the incident precluded any investigation. After a delay in which the alleged crime scene was destroyed, NCIS eventually conducted a brief investigation and because of Helmer’s lack of consciousness during the incident concluded that nothing could be done. Additionally, the Marine Corps reported it had lost the Helmer rape kit, the medical evidence allegedly indicating rape.

Helmer took the case to the major’s superior officer, who acknowledged that the NCIS investigation was “woefully inadequate” and removed the major from his command. No further steps were taken, the lawsuit alleges. Helmer says the superior officer told her, “You’re from Colorado—you’re tough. You need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off. I can’t baby-sit you all of the time.”

Helmer says she was eventually forced to leave the Marine Corps. The alleged rapist remains a Marine officer in good standing.

Rape Reporting in the Military

The Department of Defense estimates that only 20 percent of military personnel who experience “unwanted sexual contact” report it to military authorities because the accusations can be met with suspicion and the victims can experience retaliation.

In 2009, 3,230 service members reported being raped or sexually assaulted, but the Department of Defense estimated that 16,150 actually were raped or sexually assaulted during that year.

In 2010, 3,158 military personnel reported sexual assault or rape. The DOD estimated 15,790 were actually raped or assaulted.

In addition, in 2010, 68,379 veterans had at least one VA outpatient visit related to military sexual trauma. About 40 percent of those outpatients—nearly 27,000 —requesting treatment for military sexual trauma were male veterans.

Retaliatory Culture for Those Reporting Rape

The Department of Defense has finally quantified the retaliatory culture of the military. The DOD 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military found that 44 percent of active-duty women and 20 percent of active-duty men who had been victims of sexual assaults or rapes did not report them because “they thought their performance evaluation or chance for promotion would suffer.” Even more decided not to report because they “thought they would be labeled a troublemaker.”

Most rapists evade any form of punishment, much less incarceration. The DOD sexual assaults report said that fewer than 8 percent of suspected perpetrators were court-martialed and convicted, while in civilian life 40 percent of the accused were prosecuted. Most military personnel who have committed rape or sexual assault are allowed to be honorably discharged; if they’re forced to retire, they still receive their full benefits.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, May 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

There is nothing “prestigious” about these arrested adolescents.

Report this

By Graham ASH-PORTER, May 10, 2012 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Well so much for all that praying in the Military. They
are acting no better than the general Public. Shame on
them. Semper Fidelis my foot.

Report this

By aluminumfoiilhat, May 10, 2012 at 1:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If I never see another “semper fi” I’ll be happy. All
oer the Web is this “semper fi”. I don’t know which are
posers and which are marines and don’t care. Soldiers
need to come off the pedestal. A marine is no more a
hero than I am or my dog.

Report this

By Jeanine, May 9, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sounds like its time to take the prosecution authority for crimes of rape and murder OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE MILITARY AND PLACE IT IN CIVILIAN COURTS PERIOD.  I’d like to see those officers smart mouth a local District Attorney like that.  If a crime scene in the civilian world were tampered with those responsible would go to jail for a LOOOONG time.  It is painfully obvious that the military ‘chain-of-command’ is totally unwilling to handle these cases correctly.  Either that—or the rape victims could sponsor a ‘blanket party’ for the rapists—and then conveniently forget the incident.  If the Pentagon remains criminally negligent—then these women should do what they have to—to get even.

Report this

By litlpeep, May 9, 2012 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

A hearty Thank You, Colonel Ann Wright!

It is far beyond a reasonable time for the United States of America to take responsibility for its own military culture, and, in particular, reverse the tradition of leaving the management of that culture to those addicted to killing, pillaging, plundering, raping, maiming, and/or, doing all of the above on behalf of our largely ungoverned corporations operating at home and abroad.

Hopefully, also, this will help out those of us who call repeatedly call into ever more prominent question the entire anti-Constitutional military practices of making the Armed Forces of the United States the primary tool for expanding and protecting the entire globe on behalf of irresponsible corporate executives, agents and employees; all the while our Commanders in Chief and their underlings refusing to follow the Constitutional mandate for civilian supervision of the military.

Must the USA go into the immortal & infamous “junkheap of the past” with the nation’s primary epitaph saying something like, “born and thrived in unruly destruction of others and other cultures; died in wild individual and collective self-destruction”?

All the irresponsible and violent behavioral military and political culture Col. Wright describes so eloquently is, ultimately, a condemnation of us all for continually tolerating the US Military’s apparently unmanageable violent outrages.

Talk about a “loose cannon on deck.”  This old military saw precisely describes the entire Department of Defense, armed to the teeth with the most violent armaments the wealthiest nation on the planet can purchase, rolling around the globe without any noticeable adult supervision.

If the reactionaries want to cut some pure crap out of the government, why do they not, for starters, cut the entire Department of Defense?  This would have the side benefit of making the budget a little more manageable along the way.

But the primary achievement would be to give the whole world an enormous sigh of relief from the planet’s most pronounced terrorizing apparatus.

Report this

By ChrisML, May 9, 2012 at 1:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American Empire:
Fear mongering
and Rape.
There have, of course, been other Empires
But we are talking about the US Empire here.

Report this
THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

@mrfreeze, May 8 at 5:33 am Link to this comment
With all due respect - Where exactly do women who
enlist in the military think they are going?

The military IS about killing, pillaging, raping and
destroying. Why would women expect to be treated with
professionalism, respect or equanimity in the armed

I realize I might sound like a sexist jerk when I say
this, but I find it hard to feel sorry for any woman
foolish enough to go into the military. Women are not
welcome there. They never have been and they never
will be.
Sums it up rather well, IMO.

Report this

By traynorjf, May 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

@ vector56

And you’re qualified to diagnose, I presume.

Report this
vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

“It will be interesting when one of these women kills (I hope he dies very slowly) one of those bastards. “

traynorjf; sounds like some one needs therapy?

“Having served in the Navy and worked alongside Marines on deployment that is not the core function of our military services.  The core function of the military is to protect the constitution, citizens, and interests of the United States.  “

steve in DC; If your core function is to “uphold” the constitution, why do you allow those who piss on it to go unpunished?  I speak of Obama killing of US citizens without a trial (a basic core violation of due process); the corporate owned Congress suspending out civil rights; NSA spying on every cell phone call and e-mail…  Your oath was not to Obama, the Congress or the CIA, but to the principles of the constitution. Have you read it at all (the thing you swore to up hold)?

Also, the actions of the military in general are making US citizens less save! Killing millions of other people and handing over their natural resources to multinational corporations tends to create more enemies than you guys can murder! News flash, We the people of this country don’t need you to defend us; we can defend ourselves if necessary!

Report this

By traynorjf, May 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

It will be interesting when one of these women kills (I hope he dies very slowly) one of those bastards. It’s surprising to me why they have escaped retribution.

Report this

By berniem, May 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

This ceaseless glorification of the military, our, oh so esteemed warriors, is sickening! These people are dehumanized and indoctrinated into dehumanizing others for the sole purpose of bringing them to heel or dispatching them from the realm of the living! They serve no purpose other than to protect wealth, property, and power while violently going about the business of appropriating any and all things deemed of value by those of wealth, power, and property. As time goes on and conditions here deteriorate further, these brave and noble souls will turn on us every biy as violently as they have against all of our historical enemies.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, May 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—-With all due respect - Where exactly do women who enlist in the military think they are going?—-

You are in effect blaming the victim here.
A woman should be able to have any job without being subjected to (increased levels of) sexual harassment and rape.
Otherwise we are locking up women in their homes because society can not be bothered to keep in check the men who are actually causing the problems.

It is not the women who are being the cause of the assaults. We can not accept that ‘they asked for it’ or ‘they should expect it because of the work environment’.
It is simply unacceptable that women are getting assaulted and raped so often, and beyond outrageous that rather than trying to prevent or deal with it, their commanders (who are supposed to protect them) make them out to be the problem and try to get rid of them by whatever underhanded means available and protect the criminals.

So even if the army is all about violence and killing (which is quite besides the truth in and of itself) it still does not excuse what is happening.

Report this

By gerard, May 8, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

The entire psychology of war is against decency, respect, honor, mercy and/or common sense.
  It is sanctioned insanity from top to bottom, Although everyone in the military is constantly ordering somebody to do something, at the same time they are being ordered by somebody else to do something else, and ALL of it pushing 24/7 toward ultimate inhumanity. There’s no motivation to say “no” to any of it because if you don’t obey, you are punished—usually unfairly.  If the “game” of war was seriously questioned, someone would have to have the guts to say “NO” to ALL of it.
  Fortunately, war appears at present to be killing itself off along with the people it kills and abuses. In the “natural order of life” war is unsustainable. Of course it will take the “natural order” with it when it goes—unless ... unless humans refuse to commit suicide when the crunch comes. So far, the sheer force of life itself has won out, but sometimes it’s been a tight squeak—if you judge from evidences discovered by anthropology and geology.

Report this

By Big B, May 8, 2012 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

I tend to agree with MrFreeze. What exactly did you think the military was all about? On the first day when they hand you a gun and practice shooting at human shaped targets even the dimmest among us should be able to figure it out.

Then of course there is the psychological aspect of it, bullets and bombs are shaped like penis’s for a reason. The ultimate victory is to penetrate a prostrate opponent.

Report this

By steve in DC, May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


I disagree.  Having served in the Navy and worked alongside Marines on deployment that is not the core function of our military services.  The core function of the military is to protect the constitution, citizens, and interests of the United States.  Granted poor leadership can turn that into unending war and carnage, but there is more to it.  A lot of time is spent simply defending the US.  Keeping shipping lanes open.  Performing humanitarian aid work.  Acting as good will ambassadors for the US.  Killing is only a means to the end for part of the job.

The truth is that military life is stressful and not at all compatible with proper sexual relations.  Spending months in camps or on ships with an insane male to female creates insane situations.  Affairs, sexual relations across ranks, rape, and prostitution are all illegal in the military.  Yet they all happen with alarming frequency.  Men rape women.  Officers sleep with enlisted.  Women prostitute themselves for extra cash.  Women get pregnant to get out of a deployment.  And that’s not even counting the amount of same sex assaults and issues that happen among both genders.

Getting formally disciplined for any of these things is career ending.  Thus any sort of accusation of prostitution or rape, or any sort of command discovery of sexual activity at all turns into a giant mess.  Where all involved level insane accusations at others to get them off the hook. It turns into a giant “he/she started it”, “he/she forced me to do it”. It can be next to impossible to figure out what happened and who’s telling the truth.  We had an incident on a ship that I won’t name where a prostitution ring was run out of a back area in the hangar bay and then in the flag staffs second quarters on the second bridge.  Of course, we know it was known as the “love shack”, but once we had to do something about it a giant mess happened.

I don’t have a solution for this and the Navy has certainly tried to fix it, but it really isn’t completely fixable.  And it’s made far worse now with the continued deployments and damage being done to service members.  Stressed people are far more likely to do something stupid.

Of course, these sort of problems are far less common among same sex units, but other issues are there.

Report this
mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, May 8, 2012 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

With all due respect - Where exactly do women who enlist in the military think they are going? 

The military IS about killing, pillaging, raping and destroying. Why would women expect to be treated with professionalism, respect or equanimity in the armed forces?

I realize I might sound like a sexist jerk when I say this, but I find it hard to feel sorry for any woman foolish enough to go into the military. Women are not welcome there. They never have been and they never will be. The few who have been successful and have found “fulfillment” are the lucky ones.

Report this
vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 8, 2012 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

“But the Marine Barracks has its dark and ugly side. It is also the home of officers and enlisted men of the Marine Corps who have been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting and raping female Marine officers and enlisted and civilian women who work there.”

I met Col. Ann Wright at the Detroit Social Forum; I like her more than most. That being said , I must disagree; the Marines core function is to end the lives of other human beings, anything beyond that pales in comparison.

“Heart breakers and life takers”; “Widow Makers”.

What makes them so “dishonorable” is that they murder “millions” to annex the resources of others for global corporations; hold the ground where the Natural Resources are located (killing countless locals) and take credit for defending us against the god dam threat they and their corporate masters created by attacking the “others” in the first place!

So, to assume that these “Baby killing Corporate Stooges” would give a rat’s rear end about a woman’s right not to be violated is nonsense!

Report this

By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

in short, ruling class teaches soldiers communism. when they come
home or delist, ruling class teaches them fascism!

Report this

sign up to get updates

Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.