Jan. 31, 2018: A mother whose daughter said she was sexually assaulted during the first grade by a classmate at their elementary school on an AMERICAN military base in Germany on her daughter’s bedroom in their new house in Colorado.
The three military fathers sat with the commander of the conference table at the U.S. army base in Germany, pleading for help.
They told the commander that their daughters were at a half a dozen girls, are sexually abused by a boy in their first-class, on the basis of school. The principal is known about the boy’s behavior for months, they said, but the abuse continued.
The girls’ parents had already turned to the Army, the police, army, child abuse authorities, and sex-assault specialists. The reaction in the US military massive support structure was always the same, she said, Sorry that this has happened; there is nothing we can do.
“It gives us a sense of hopelessness,” one of the fathers, a soldier, said. “We can only not so much as parents.”
Tens of thousands of children and teens live and go to school on the AMERICAN military bases, while their parents serve the country. But if she was sexually violated by a classmate, a neighborhood child or a brother or sister, they often get lost in legal and bureaucratic underworld . That is because military law does not apply to citizens, and the federal legal system that typically handles civil crimes on the base station is not equipped or inclined to the prosecution of young people.
The Pentagon is the answer to addressing this issue is in contrast to how it cracked down on sexual abuse in the ranks following parliamentary scrutiny more than a decade ago.
“If this would have been a soldier, things would have happened very differently,” the soldier, the woman said.
The Office of the Minister of Defence said that it “takes seriously any incident affecting the welfare” of the soldiers and the families, and promised, without elaboration, the “appropriate measures.”
The military school system — the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA — said it had “zero tolerance for sexual abuse” and that an investigation of what happened at the German primary school showed the staff “and he took the necessary measures to meet the needs of all students involved.”
Yet, in a military that prizes procedure and protocol, the Pentagon, the school has no specific policy to respond to student-on-student sexual violence. It doesn’t accurately keep track of the incidents and provides students with less protection than those abused in AMERICAN public schools, an Associated Press investigation found.
Three sets of the parents interviewed for this story spoke on the record. But AP does not name victims of sexual violence, without its consent, to protect their daughters’ identities, rich with the anonymity of their parents.
“The only place where you can feel safe with your child to school,” said another mother, whose daughter was one of those who reported to be attacked, “and then you can’t even trust in the school.”
The Army soldier and his wife were very happy that they have arrived in the southern German town of Grafenwoehr (GRAF’-en-vohr) in 2014. The small outpost had housed AMERICAN troops since the second world War, including a private named Elvis Presley.
Although isolated in the middle of fields and rolling hills, Grafenwoehr turn on the couple is just a train of Europe ‘ s great cities. They also found that their 6-year-old daughter could attend a primary school run by the military that advance placement classes in math and reading.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as the school year progressed, even though their daughter started to act temperamental after the christmas holidays. She thought she would be homesick. Then on a Thursday at the end of July 2015, if the woman was watching a TV crime drama with her daughter playing nearby, an actor asked about the “sex” of a victim, and the girl giggled.
How would they have known that word of burden of the woman. So later that evening, in the girl’s bedroom, the woman gently asked: Had anyone ever improperly touched her?
With tears in his eyes, the girl confided that several times a week during the school year, a boy had forced kisses on her, penetrated her with his finger in the classroom and on the playground, and her persuaded to touch him. He told her that she would get hurt if she talked about it, ” she said. And, she added, the other girls in her class were also abused.
The woman of the discovery began a battle that is described in the oath of the soldier, the law enforcement records and other documents shared with the AP, and supplemented by interviews with the couple and two other sets of parents.
The same night with her daughter came to the fore, the soldier, the woman of contact with the two other girls and mothers learned that they hadn’t known anything, either.
The next morning, the soldier and his wife went to a Army sex-assault response office, where they are on their first road block: A staffer told them their daughter did not qualify for help because she was a minor.
When she called the Family Advocacy Program, but the specialists handling child abuse reports only when the allegations involve a parent or carer. The Army’s Criminal Investigative Command, they were told researchers lacked jurisdiction within the military schools and were referred to the offices they had already contacted. Finally, the base-office of the Army inspector general proposed to contact the client or their congressman.
“We hit everywhere you could possibly go,” the woman recalled. “It just felt like, ‘Oh, well, children are children.'”
On the eve of a meeting with the client she had for Monday, the soldier and his wife spoke with another set of parents and included in a new shock.
Parents who said that the principal had called them about six months earlier, in February 2015, to a declaration in the pause between the boy and their daughter. He gave the impression it was not serious and promised that “every step to ensure that this never happens again,” said the father, an army officer who was among the meeting with the commander.
But it happened again, the official said. In May, the principal called him about a second incident, and said that he had removed from a class bank where the boy would squeeze next to girls and touch them.
When the parents pushed their daughter for more details, the official said, she described several incidents since February, including the boy reach under her clothing to touch her genitals. She said that she had told her teacher at least once about his misconduct. And they called five other victims, the official said.
Fuming, he called the client, naming each girl, including the soldier’s daughter. “You need to contact them and let the parents know that this has happened,” he recalled telling the principal.
After hearing that, the soldier, the woman said that she threw up.
The soldier and his wife had not met, Principal Matthew Kralevich for that day in early August 2015, when they told their daughter the story.
Kralevich had arrived in Grafenwoehr Elementary education in 2012, his second place in the Pentagon school system. Within two years, the National Parent Teacher Association recognized the school as a “real example of what can be achieved when schools and families work together.”
Armed with the information from the other parents, the soldier and his wife pressed Kralevich about what he would have known when and what he had done to stop further abuse.
Kralevich recognised dealing with a previous assault incident with the boy, according to the soldier that the oath to the military police and other authorities. When they asked about the other girls, Kralevich said he was in contact with the families of everyone’s name and their daughter was not among them, they reminded.
Kralevich, the answers are angry with the woman. The officer stressed he gave her daughter the name with the client months earlier. And the other parents said that they do not Kralevich, had warned them of the attacks.
“I know you’re lying,” the woman recalled telling of Kralevich.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” she said he replied, “because I did everything I had to do, and I protected our students.”
Kralevich said the boy might not be able to go back to school, but yet, he was thinking about offering the training of personnel, the increase of the playground supervision and the encouragement of parents to talk to their children about appropriate touching. The Pentagon would not allow Kralevich to speak with journalists, and he did not respond to immediate requests for comment.
Dissatisfied, the parents of the six girls began strategizing a response. They met weeks later in a park and shared new information by means of a Facebook group chat.
Two of the girls, they heard, they said, they had said that there was at least one teacher what was going on and were instructed not to tell their parents, according to data and interviews.
“I asked her,” Did you ever tell anybody?’ “one of those girls’ mothers told the AP. “They said, ‘Mom, I told (the teacher). She told me to stop tattle telling.’ “
At the end of August, the soldier, the officer and a third military father a call on the base commander. Commanders may take administrative action in civil misconduct cases, but he told them that he was not competent in the basic school, according to the officer and soldier. In the end, he said that he would call.
“Go work it out with the principal was the bottom line of the answer,” the officer recalled. “We said the most important thing is the problem.”
Within a day, the commander, who now works on a different basis and do not respond to AP-messages, followed to say that the client is in contact. Some parents said they received a call but do not believe that the principal promises of change.
AP began investigating sexual abuse among military children and teenagers, after the readers of its 2017 research on the terrorist attacks in the U.S. public schools reported even more complicated problems are based on.
In contrast to the instruction in AMERICAN public schools, there is no detailed guidance in sexual violence among children occur in the military schools.
The Pentagon has rules and systems to support the combating of sexual violence among service members, developed and refined in the past ten years. The school has a 13-page regulation for the investigation of an adult attacks on the students. But when it comes to student-on-student attacks, officials may only refer to the members of the three directives, which generally prohibit sexual harassment or “physical conduct of a sexual nature.”
As a result, reports of student sex attack languishing.
On a base at the lower school in Naples, Italy, for example, families complained in 2009 and 2010 that the administrator had responded too slowly to allegations that classmates were sexually abusing their daughters. A father, in an e-mail, accused Pentagon officials of the school of “act as it is not a big deal.” Administrators indicated that they had added a playground monitor, and talked with students about “appropriate touching.”
The Italy cases have surfaced in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a school counselor, Manuel Losada, who was fired after he discussed the incident with a military reporter. He told AP that school officials do not want to hear about the attacks. “There was a silence; there was no action,” he said. “They were afraid to go.”
Since 1997, the AMERICAN public schools who, in the context of specific directives of the U. S. Department of Education in dealing with student sexual violence. Those include separating the victim from the alleged attacker, allowing both sides to present evidence and the parts of a research into the outcome.
Public school students also have legal protection under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive funds from the federal government. Court rulings have extended the law on protection of student sex assault victims.
An executive order in 2000 trying to keep federal educational programs, such as those of the Pentagon, of Title IX of the dogma, but that did not allow students the right to sue for the damage or the request out of research — the leverage is often necessary to get action.
Missing this option, the best the Grafenwoehr parents may file a complaint with the Pentagon school system, the Office of Research and the Internal Review about the way the incidents were handled.
The father was an army officer said that he was not told anything about the outcome of the investigation. The soldier said that he and his wife were told only that their complaint resulted in the finding that no policies were broken and the client was “no fault.”
Both men were invited to a regional administrator of the Pentagon school system to tell them, he could not elaborate on the matter, because a minor was involved. The school system also declined to discuss the details of the case with AP.
“We found it to be a cover-up from the beginning,” the officer said.
The soldier filed a freedom of information act request that December for copies of school records generated by the complaint review process after the system said that it was ready with its assessment.
The school system responded that no records could be found.
‘A KIND OF JUSTICE’
The military remote system of about 165 schools around the world gathers “serious incident” reports to alert headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, about possible crimes or incidents that can create a “negative media/community attention.”
Sexual assaults under the system’s 71,000 students are supposed to be reported. But the attacks on Grafenwoehr Elementary were among more than 150 that were not included in a serious incident report, the AP found. System officials would not explain why there were no reports on Grafenwoehr in what they released to the AP.
There was also no trace of the alleged sexual assault in a list of cases the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command to AP, although the soldier had written out a detailed, sworn statement to military investigators.
A spokesman of the Army of the police said that they pursue all credible reports of sexual violence. But in a number of former researchers told the AP that agents sometimes board reports in a “raw data” file, that the spokesperson is later revised.
The mother of one of the Grafenwoehr girls filed a report with an Army of researchers and recalled being told, “It is a child-on-child crime, and someone else would have to take over.” She said that she thought that it would be passed to another investigative unit, but “after that we never heard of.”
The soldier learned his report was submitted to the German authorities, in the framework of an agreement with the U.S. army to share jurisdiction on the basis of crime. German officers of justice sent him a letter at the end of November 2015, saying they could not help, because, according to their law, children under 14 are not in form design.
“We expect a kind of justice,” the soldier, the woman said. “It was really disheartening and depressing to know the military children, especially abroad, have no protection, and there was nothing we can do.”
The family began trying to move elsewhere in Germany, so their daughter could attend a different school for second grade. Instead, they were stuck on Grafenwoehr.
Although the boy did not go to school — for the reasons of the girls families never officially learned of their daughter struggled. A psychologist to treat her wrote that she “has shown that a significant difficulty in adjusting her circumstances after the victim by another child at this school.”
In the beginning of 2016, the Army granted the family a compassionate reassignment to another base, and noted that the girl “was sexually abused by another student at school several times last school year” and that an appeal for help on a half dozen different agencies had failed.
In a last attempt to get answers, the soldier last fall prompted his hometown congressman, the US. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, to put questions to the Pentagon school system.
Thomas M. Brady, the system’s director, responded in a three-page letter, noting that the boy had unspecified “behavioral problems” that the client is treated in an appropriate manner. But it Was not clear when the client first learned of the boy’s sexual aggression.
Brady called it a “very exceptional situation” and said he regrets that the soldier and his family left Grafenwoehr the impression that “school officials do not have compassion for the victims of sexual misconduct or their families.”
Months after the AP began questioning the school in processing the student’s sex, violence, Pentagon, school officials said that they the development of new rules and guidelines for reporting and responding to such violence. Officials also said that the school had appointed additional staff to advise families about their rights and available resources, among other reforms.
Just like the other parents, who had the AP, the soldier is reluctant to blame the military. But he noticed the disconnect of what is going on with his family, in an organization known for rallying around its own.
Periodically, he and other service members must attend the mandatory sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention training. “I want to stand up and walk,” he said.
He asks whether attacks on Grafenwoehr Elementary would have stopped the school had done more, earlier. He also wonders whether the boy got the kind of treatment that experts say can prevent a child to be a life long offender.
“You’re supposed to be the ultimate protectors of your children,” said the soldier. “You just feel that you failed. All the time I have that feeling.”
The family lives in Colorado, in an off-base subdivision served by a public school. Their daughter, now 10, is still in therapy, they said. Her third class of the last year reported they were not being nice to boys, so the soldier was the woman to explain what happened at Grafenwoehr, as she did to the fourth grade this year, one of the constant reminders that they face.
The parents struggle with the question, or parts of their case in public. They decided that they, for the sake of their daughter and others like her.
“I want them to know later that we did everything we possibly could to fight for her and to fight for other people,” the mother of the girl said. “I don’t want another family to have to deal with this.”