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Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison (center), commander of U.S. Army Japan & I Corps (Forward), visits with the deployable assessment team chief, Col. Frank Clark (left), while touring exercise Sapporo Epicenter, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise held at Camp Sapporo, Hokkaido, Jan. 23-27, 2013, with Lt. Gen. Kiyofuni Iwata (right), commander of Northern Army, Japan Ground Self Defense Force.
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison (center)
The military has so far succeeded at keeping decisions about sexual assault prosecution in the hands of its own commanders. Here's a crystal-clear example of why that's a terrible idea:
The sexual misconduct complaints piled up on the desk of Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., the commander of U.S. Army forces in Japan. A colonel on his staff had been accused of having an affair with a subordinate, of drunken and inappropriate behavior with other women at a military club and lastly, of sexual assault.

But Harrison let most of the complaints slide or reacted with leniency, according to the Army. He had known the colonel for two decades and said he didn’t believe some of the allegations. In March 2013, when a Japanese woman accused the colonel of sexually assaulting her, Harrison waited months to report it to criminal investigators — a clear violation of Army rules, according to an internal investigation.

Oh, it gets better. Harrison was eventually suspended and officially reprimanded—but only because the Japanese woman went outside the chain of command with her complaint. And despite the reprimand, Harrison was made director of program analysis and evaluation for an Army deputy chief of staff at the Pentagon. Some punishment for grievously mishandling a series of sexual assault and misconduct complaints! Harrison will retire soon, and according to the Army, all this shows that he was totally punished very severely, and we should all chill about it because they are handling things.

Maybe this is what passes for punishment of a general who puts the man he knows above the women that man mistreated and "boys will be boys" above justice. But that's something the military needs to be fixing. And the fact that they keep not doing so is just one more piece of evidence for why Congress needs to step in and force them to fix it.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:22 AM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Daily Kos.

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