The case has drawn the ire of sexual assault victims advocates, who note that the Pentagon has not issued a similar official lauding of Colonel Spletstoser, the alleged victim, despite her own 28 years in the Army, including two combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. She remains on active duty in the military.
Col. Don Christensen, who retired from the Air Force and is president of Protect Our Defenders, which advocates on behalf of assault victims, said even after years of public criticism over how the Defense Department handles sex assault cases, the Hyten case shows that the agency still has not gotten it right.
He pointed to the case of Senator Martha McSally, Republican of Arizona, as an example.
Earlier this year, Ms. McSally announced that she was raped while she was a cadet at the Air Force Academy 30 years ago. She did not disclose who raped her, but said that the Defense Department’s handling of her case made her feel as if she were being raped again.
Still, Ms. McSally said she believed the prosecution of such cases should remain within the purview of the Defense Department, a position the Pentagon takes as well.
“It just hit me the differences in the way the military addressed Senator McSally’s disclosure and the way they are dealing with Hyten’s victim,” Colonel Christensen said in an interview. “McSally disclosed she was raped by an unnamed superior officer at an undisclosed time and undisclosed location 20 years after she was raped. McSally received an official apology from the Air Force.”
Colonel Spletstoser, by contrast, told the Pentagon “who it was, when it occurred and where it occurred,” Colonel Christensen said. “She cooperated fully with the investigation and agreed to testify” before the Senate committee.
“She has received no apology,” Colonel Christensen said. “Instead, the Pentagon praised the man she says sexually assaulted her.” He added: “If this were Staff Sgt. Hyten, he’d be getting charged. The only reason he wasn’t charged is because he’s General Hyten.”