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Military Rape Speech 2 by Congresswoman Jackie Speier.wmv

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Uploaded on Apr 13, 2011

Today I want to share the story of Seaman Panayiota Bertzikis.
Seaman Bertzikis served in the Coast Guard from November 2005 until May 2007. Her allegation is as follows.
On May 30, 2006 Seaman Bertzikis was raped by a shipmate when she was stationed in Burlington, Vermont. During a hike, her rapist threw Seaman Bertzikis on the ground, punched her in the face, and raped her.
She reported the rape to Command who told her to cease speaking about it or she would be charged with the military equivalent of slander. She later obtained photographs and admissions made by her rapist through the Freedom of Information Act but Command failed to bring him to justice in any way.
Instead, they forced Seaman Bertzikis to live on the same floor as her rapist where he would remain a constant threat. Command also told Seaman Bertzikis to work with her rapist and use the time together to "work out their differences."
Command was well aware of, but did not stop, further assaults and harassment of Seaman Bertzikis. Instead, she was transferred to Boston where Coast Guard personnel called her a "liar" and a "whore."
When she was on base performing her duties, a group of Coast Guard personnel cornered Seaman Bertzikis and tried to rip off her uniform. They called her a "crazy lying whore" and said she would "pay for snitching" on their friend. They threatened to rape her again.
When she reported this harassment, the Coast Guard's "victim advocate" told her not to pursue disciplinary action because she would be seen as "difficult." In addition, her appointed attorney said if her rapist did not have a history of sexual assault, "why would he assault anyone now?"
Seaman Bertzikis was denied rank because of the "pending investigation," despite the fact that she had met all the necessary requirements.
She described her horrific ordeal this way: "If I told them that my house was broken into not one person would question me, blame me or say that I am lying, but when I say that my body was broken into people automatically feel that they have the right to judge me, doubt me, and blame me."
What a profound statement. Seaman Bertzikis has since formed the Military Rape Crisis Center to help her fellow victims. For turning her pain into purpose, she is a true American hero. You can find out more information by visiting www.stopmilitaryrape.com.
Seaman Bertzikis' story shows the urgent need to protect service members from abuse. On the same day I delivered my floor speech last week, the Austin-American Statesman reported that a U.S. Army recruiter kept his position even after his superiors were told he had been accused of sexually assaulting a prospective enlistee. Is this problem really so profound that some perpetrators aren't even waiting until their victims enlist to assault them? I'm afraid so.
This is just another example of why we need system wide reform of the way sexual assault and rape cases are handled.
Please continue to share your stories with me. You can visit my website at speier.house.gov or facebook.com/jackiespeier. For my part, I will keep speaking out until our military brass realizes it can't hide these crimes anymore.

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