Australia Defence Association head Neil James has defended the way senior officers have handled the growing sex scandal within the Australian Defence Force Academy after Defence Minister Stephem Smith said the punishment of an eighteen year old female cadet was insensitive and stupid.
The cadet was fined and confined to base, in a manner which created the impression she’s being punished for speaking out about sexual abuse, Defence Minister Stephen Smith says.
Mr Smith said the Commandant of the ADFA, Commodore Bruce Kafer, had acknowledged a major error of judgement in allowing an unrelated disciplinary matter to proceed at this time.
The action came as the ADF and federal police investigate allegations that consensual sex between the female cadet and a male student was broadcast, without her knowledge, to six other defence members watching in another room.
Smith labelled the decision “insensitive or completely stupid”, but James has hit back, reports the ABC.
“Of the number of phone calls and SMS messages and emails we’re getting, and people stopping me literally in the street, there’s considerable anger.”
James claims there are a number of inaccuracies in the press.
“There’s a growing unease about some of the statements made by the Minister for Defence. Civil control of the military is a two-way street and you would expect the Minister to defend the Defence Force and officers in the Defence Force from inaccurate and unfair media criticism,” the ABC reported James as saying.
Earlier, a former officer at the Australian Defence Force Academy came forward with allegations of predatory sexual behaviour and cover-ups at the elite college.
The former divisional officer worked at the college in 2006 but said he quickly left because of a culture of covering up misbehaviour and misconduct.
“I had a cadet in my actual division who was actually stalking and harassing another first-year female,” Mark told AAP on Thursday.
“He blatantly lied to me and my divisional sergeant.
“I asked for action to be taken against him in the way of formal charges. They wouldn’t do it.”
Later, Mark discovered the male had been previously dating the female but she had ended the relationship.
“When I walked around at night, the college sounded like a brothel with the windows open,” Mark, now out of the defence force, said.
His story adds to a growing list of stories detailing a predatory culture at the academy.
Earlier on Thursday, a Brisbane woman told ABC Radio her niece was told to “suck it up” after being raped while training at the academy.
The unnamed woman said her niece was 19 at the time and injured so badly she was admitted to hospital.
The cadet’s partner, who was also in the defence force, had his career threatened when the young woman considered pursuing charges over the assault.
“The defence force did absolutely nothing. In fact, she was told by her commanding officer to suck it up,” the woman said.
When told of the rape allegation, Mark was unsurprised.
“There’s a hidden culture there.”
He said the structure of the academy, where third- and
fourth-year students lived and studied alongside first-year cadets
created countless problems.
“You could call them predators,” he said.
“What happens is they’re 21 years of age, and in come these nice 17-year-olds and it’s like, `you put out for me and I can help you get through all of this’.”
Mark said it was routine for the more advanced students to remind first years they were dealing with their future bosses.
“Straight away they’re indoctrinated into this situation, this pressure to put out.”