Members of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee said repeatedly during a Wednesday hearing that their work on reforming the way the Department of Defense treats military sexual assault cases was not over—further questioning the so-called “good soldier defense” in weighing an accuser’s testimony against a superior.
During the hearing, called to explore the links between sexual assault, post traumatic stress, and suicide, former Marine LCpl. Jeremiah Arbogast told the panel how he was drugged by a supervisor and then raped. He explained that he wore a recording device to help bring the man to a court-martial.
At trial, the defense attorney raised the staff sergeant’s 23 years of service against the junior Marine’s time in service in judging whether to acquit or convict; he also referred to Abrogast’s “mental unstability.” The NCO was not convicted of the sexual assault charge and was not imprisoned.
“Nothing was done. To this day, I don’t know where my perpetrator is,” Arbogast said.
Arbogast was medically discharged with a 30 percent disability and diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress. In the wake of a suicide attempt that came after his release, he is being treated for severe spinal cord injuries and uses a wheelchair. While praising the VA for the care he is receiving for the spinal cord injuries, “I only saw one counselor, [who] was not trained in military sexual assault” Arbogast testified. He later attempted suicide.
Later witnesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs and DoD said that mental health care outside their systems was an option and Abrogast was using it through TRICARE. Jessic