Two weeks ago Indiana National Guardsman Sgt. Eric P. Vetesy was charged with sexually assaulting six young women — mostly high school students — who he helped enlist in the military. Vetesy faces 31 counts of rape, sexual battery, official misconduct and corrupt business influence. Prosecutors say Vetesy assembled background information on each recruit and was able to target those he thought most likely could coerce. He most of the high school students during lunch breaks at school.
“These were very young women who were being recruited out of high school classes,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp. “This is one of the most heinous investigations of this type that I’ve ever seen, and one of the worst abuses of authority.”
Vetesy is not alone.
The Indianapolis Star reported on March 1, “Nationwide, military recruiters reportedly have been linked to at least a half-dozen sexual assaults during the past few years, since the creation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. This broad education law requires, among other things, that high schools give military recruiters greater access to students.”
The Indianapolis Star also published background information on the other cases:
* July 2003: A former U.S. Army recruiter based in Moreno Valley, Calif., was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the statutory rape of a 17-year-old girl who was joining the Army. He pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl in a back room of the Army’s recruiting station and in a government-issued sedan. The girl told authorities the sex acts happened when the man was her recruiter. She later decided not to join the Army.
* January 2004: A former Marine recruiter in the Baltimore area who was convicted of fondling a teenage recruit was sentenced to probation and ordered to seek counseling. The judge was quoted: “You may have misinterpreted the actions of an outgoing, flirting teenager. She was a kid. You were her recruiter. You were her mentor. She looked up to you. She may have worshipped you from afar, but that doesn’t mean she intended to act on it or wanted you to act on it.”
* May 2004: A 34-year-old Marine recruiter in Blooming Grove, N.Y., was charged with six counts of rape, accused of having sex several times with a 16-year-old girl who wanted to enlist. The school superintendent said the man apparently got to know the student while recruiting at Washingtonville High School.
* June 2004: A military jury sentenced a Marine Corps recruiter to five years in prison for raping a 17-year-old high school student in a Riverside recruiting office. The recruiter asked the teenager, who was interested in joining the Corps and was participating in an after-school Marine exercise program, to enter a back room at the recruiting station, where he raped her, the girl testified.
* November 2004: An Army recruiter in Riverside, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of having sex with two 17-year-old Paloma Valley High School students. The 24-year-old recruiter was charged with four felony counts of having sex with and giving alcohol to minors. He met the two girls at an Army recruiting seminar at the high school.