Articles Mast

From Draft NOtices, May-June 2000

PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR:

ARMY RECRUITERS AND THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF FEMALE RECRUITS

- Glen Milner, Seattle Draft and Military Counseling Center

Four years of involvement with counter-recruiting issues in the Shoreline School District has uncovered a number of sexual harassment cases involving U.S. Army recruiters and female high school students. If not for the close scrutiny recruiters were receiving from activists and the media, it is doubtful the incidents of sexual harassment would have been made public. The question remains ó how common is the sexual harassment of female students in our schools by military recruiters?

Shoreline School District has two high schools and is located immediately north of Seattle. The neighborhoods in the district are middle to upper-middle class. Generally, military service is viewed as not the best choice here, but an acceptable choice for some.

In 1995, parents of students at Shorecrest High School asked for equal access for activists with an alternative view to military service. We had discovered that military recruiters had no restrictions on access to students in the district. Recruiters could be seen in the gym after school and uniformed soldiers even instructed some of the class periods, but the schools would not allow leaflets with an opposing view to military service in the career centers. Eventually, the media became interested in our efforts and began carrying articles about military recruitment in public schools. Finally, in June 1997, Shorecrest High School agreed to allow us to display four different leaflets in its career center.

In the 1997-1998 school year, we tried to persuade Shoreline School District to develop a policy on military recruitment and equal access for alternative views. Again, the media covered school board meetings and our efforts to establish a policy for equal access. During this time, a local reporter noticed a police report regarding a 17-year-old female Shorecrest High student who was sexually assaulted by a 36-year-old Army recruiter.

On January 8, 1998, Sergeant Rodney L. White had taken April Parcells, a female student, off campus to a park, where he put her hand on his crotch, pulled up her shirt and asked her to have sex. He drove Ms. Parcells to numerous locations over several hours while refusing to take her home. The next day, Sergeant White returned to Shorecrest High School and asked her not to tell anyone. The family reported the incident immediately to the Army and was assured the recruiter would be properly investigated. After more than a month of no action from the Army, the family reported the incident to the King County Sheriffís office and Sergeant White was arrested. An investigation by Shorecrest High School revealed that sexual harassment had taken place during numerous incidents in December 1997 and January 1998.

The Army later convinced King County prosecutors that the recruiter would be properly tried in the military justice system and the county charges were dropped. On March 11-12, 1999, Sergeant Rodney White was acquitted of four charges of failing to obey an order, five charges for indecent assault and three charges for indecent language in a court-martial at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Army did not allow any witnesses in support of the two female students involved. One victimís mother, Paula Danielson, afterward said, "They gave us a snow job." The Army called the case an "isolated incident," promoted Rodney White to Staff Sergeant 1st Class, and sent him to a post in Kentucky.

A Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Army on the incident brought the release of a Commanderís Inquiry dated February 5, 1998. The report by an Army investigator recommended that Sergeant White and a second Army recruiter, the sergeant in charge of the recruiting station at 150th and Aurora Ave. N., should both be removed from duty for improper relations with female students. The Commanderís Inquiry of February 5, 1998 further recommended the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Seattle "do quarterly training on both sexual harassment and prohibitive activities in USAREC IAW USAREC Reg 600-25 to ensure all personnel understand behavior of this nature is unacceptable."

On May 26, 1999, a third Army recruiter from the same station in Shoreline picked up a 16-year-old female student on her way to school, bought her a pack of cigarettes, took her to her house and asked to have sex with her. A police report was filed against the 29-year-old recruiter in the City of Shoreline.

This incident prompted the Shoreline Schools Superintendent, Marlene Holayter, on August 19, 1999, to ban the Army from recruiting at the two high schools in the Shoreline School District.

When the third Army recruiter was brought to trial on February 3, 2000, for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, the charges were dropped. The prosecutor for the City of Shoreline had determined that even if the charges were proven, the 16-year-old student was at the legal age of consent. The recruiter was determined not to be in a "position of trust" as in the case of school teachers. The Army discharged the recruiter for medical reasons before the trial in Shoreline. He is now a corrections officer in Colorado.

Throughout these related incidents, Lt. Colonel David Hagg, Commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Seattle, maintained that such events in Shoreline were rare. On August 26, 1999, Lt. Colonel Hagg told a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter, "This is not a pattern; this is a very rare occurrence." School administrators and parents in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, where Lt. Colonel Hagg has command of Army recruiting, might believe it if not for another outrageous incident involving his staff of recruiters.

On October 29, 1999, during a three-day workshop in Olympia, Washington for 250 Army recruiters of the Seattle Recruiting Battalion, a 20-year-old female recruiter was sexually assaulted by fellow Army recruiters. It is believed the assault may have involved three male recruiters. The female victim was treated and released from St. Peterís Hospital.

The Army is still investigating the sexual assault of its own female recruiter. No information can be released by either the Olympia Police or the U.S. Army while the investigation is in process. Lt. Colonel Hagg told a Seattle Times reporter on November 1, 1999, "I told her Iím not about to try to cover anything up. Obviously, Iím hoping there was no assault, for her sake."

How common is the sexual harassment of female students by Army recruiters? It is certain the problem will remain until the U.S. Army spends more time on solving the problem than trying to deny it.

The position of the Seattle Draft and Military Counseling Center is that sexual assault and sexual harassment of female recruits by U.S. Army recruiters is a reflection of the tolerance for sexual abuse allowed by commanders. School districts need to regulate unsupervised recruiter visits and parents should insist that schools provide some kind of monitoring system, particularly for female student contacts with recruiters.

Glen Milner is the father of two children who graduated from Shorecrest High School. He is a member of the Seattle Draft and Military Counseling Center, an organization that counsels young men and women considering military service and persons in the military and is a member of the GI Rights Hotline. Website: www.scn.org/ip/sdmcc.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).

 

       

print this document
About Us - Alerts - Articles - Draft NOtices - Youth - Militarism - Publications - Products - Links - Contact - Home