Fucking crazy. This is what happens systematic sexism and racism (not to mention homophobia) converge in an insular institution like the military.
FATETTEVILLE, NC — When Airman First Class Cassandra Hernandez enlisted in the Air Force two years ago, she says she was carrying on a family tradition.
“I just felt like I was able bodied, I just wanted to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Hernandez
But during a party on base last summer, she says that hope for tradition and pride was nearly destroyed by three fellow airmen.
“Later on that night I was just gang raped by those three men, ” she said.
The Air Force Security Forces launched an inquiry, and three airmen were formally charged with rape.
But then late last year, an attorney representing one of the accused, set up a series of interviews with Hernandez.
Her on-base victim’s advocate was not allowed to sit in on the interviews.
“It was very uncomfortable, it felt like I was being interrogated,” Hernandez said.
Following that interview, Hernandez decided not to testify against her alleged attackers.
“We did an investigation and it did not support going to trial,” said Pope Air Force Base Spokesman Ed Drohan, “But it did support taking administrative actions against everyone involved.”
The rape charges were dropped against the three Airmen who were accused and they were given small fines and a reduction in rank.
But they have now been granted letters of immunity so that they can testify against Hernandez.
Hernandez’ two Air Force attorneys say this is an unprecedented case.
“The idea of taking that and then turning it around and granting that individual immunity to testify against the victim, it’s un-immaginable,” said Captain Omar Ashmawy “It was unimanginable to me until I took this case.”
Pope Air Force Base spokesman Ed Drohan would not answer questions about the immunity that has been granted for the three Airmen for their testimony against Hernandez.
He said that is part of the ongoing Court Marshal against Hernandez.
Cassandra Hernandez is scheduled for trial September 24.
She’s charged with under aged drinking and committing an indecent act.