DoD Replaces Sexual Assault Prevention Chief Just Ahead of Invisible War Release

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it would replace Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog as the head the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) at the end of the month. She held the job for less that one year. Hertog appears in the documentary The Invisible War by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, which addresses failures by the U.S. military to prevent and prosecute sexual assault by and against military personnel. The Invisible War hits theaters next Friday, June 22, and will air on Independent Lens in our 2012-2013 season.

From the Marine Times:

The Pentagon also has come under fire for its handling of sexual assault cases during Hertog’s tenure. A documentary on sexual assault in the military, scheduled for release June 22, paints the office’s education programs in an unflattering light and criticizes SAPRO’s lack of policy-making power.

Filming for the documentary, called “The Invisible War,” began while Whitley was in charge and creates the impression that she did not have a firm grasp on the problem, but it highlights Hertog’s statements that she intended to continue with Whitley’s policies. That documentary has been screened widely for politicians; filmmakers say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saw it in April.

Publicity for the film coincided with multiple lawsuits levied against high-ranking Pentagon officials, charging that they failed to properly deal with sexual assault in the ranks, and a push by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and groups like the Service Women’s Action Network to have sexual assault cases sent to a special prosecution office instead of up the perpetrator’s chain of command.

The Service Women’s Action Network “lobbied to make the position of SAPRO director a general officer because we knew that putting a general in charge would elevate the issue of sexual assault within the administration, the congress and the armed services,” said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of SWAN. “And that is exactly what General Hertog has done during her time at SAPRO.”

When she leaves SAPRO, Hertog will retire from the military, closing the door on her 34-year military career.

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  • honoredtoserveundergenmkh

    Gen Hertog is a great leader and anyone that had the opportunity to work for her wearing the many hats she wore (including the beret) know this…

    • EvenMajGensRHuman

      She may have been effective in certain positions. No undue disrespect to the woman, but her comments are extremely out of touch in the film, which I’ve seen. And not because of context. The film lets her make her case. That case is just cringe-inducing. Among other things, she suggests rape victims in the military should call their congressperson as a legitimate course of action for justice (?!), as well as emphatically stating that everything’s cool because commanders, whose complete discretion it is whether or not to adjudicate rape cases, don’t “play favorites”, even though those commanders ARE the accused rapists in (if i’m remembering correctly) 25% of the cases where the rapes go unreported, and are friends with the accused rapists in 33% of the cases. She was completely out of touch about the subject that her department was supposed to be dealing with. She may have had a good military mind in other aspects, (i don’t know anything about her outside of this film), but it’s her own words that make her look foolish here, and I’m not surprised that she’s stepping down. She has by far the most aggravating statements in the film. Whitley seemed clueless and it felt like she knew it, whereas Hertog seemed clueless but also very sure of herself. Dangerous. I’m glad she’s not in charge of that division any more. It’s time for radical change.

      • PLB

        Hertzog was in a no win situation in a position with little to no power. While her comments did come across as completely out of touch and were infuriating to hear them, I wonder what else she said to the interviewers that were CUT from the final film. While her “call your Congressman” comment was astounding, the other side of me thinks she knows the system is broken and recommended that route because Congressional intervention (and public shame which they do well) right now is about the only thing that will shake things up and blow this operation up and start over. The civillian who was ousted was a complete idiot.

        • sm

          I agree with PLBL that GEN Hertog’s “call your Congressman” comments were indicative of her ultimate doubt in the ability of the current system to change things for victims. While calling a Congressman would be an act of extreme courage for most sexual assault victims whose case has been ignored by their commanders, we do desperately need more victims to courageously go public with their stories. The resulting scandal is likely the only way to achieve change. I think GEN Hertog was asked to step down precisely because her comments did not toe the line and exhibited too little faith in the existing systems. I’m pretty sure the new SAPRO leader will be even less likely to institute real change.

          • Rob

            BS – she is part of an institutional problem. She lacks the strength and the leadership to challenge systemic issues. She is washes out as a failure

  • Adolph

    MG Hertog was not only a strong leader, she was a friend and most of all she is a human being that had/has ompassion for her troops. Out of all of my commanders, she was the one that had the strongest backbone.

  • Through Our Eyes

    The person who was rape should not have to leave their job or unit. The person who did the crime is the one who should be moved. Give the person a choice, but no matter what that person should be transfer to another command until case is completed.

  • Through Our Eyes

    DOD has no choice but to remove the Chain-of-Command. This issue has been going on for so many years and nothing is being done. She might have been a good person but she fail in the case of taking care of soldiers. PERIOD.

  • Through Our Eyes

    The Nightmare Of Male Rape
    Published on July 8th, 2012
    Written by: Leslie Linthicum / Of the Journal eJournal.
    Albuquerque Journal, NM

    Hello Leslie,

    I read your story that you wrote about male rape and I would like to share what happened to me. I served 22 years in the U.S. Army 16 active duty and six years in the army reserves. I have sent a letter to my Congressman requesting I be his quest from the hearing about Military Sexual Trauma but I have not heard back from him as of today.

    Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D
    Washington, D.C. Office
    2241 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    Phone: (202) 225-7772
    Fax: (202) 225-2919

    I want to thank Michael F. Matthews and Geri Lynn Weinstein Matthews for coming forward and telling Michael’s story about Male Rape in the military (The Nightmare Of Male Rape). Michael gave me the courage to come forward as so did his wife Geri Lynn. This is something that has been pushed to the side for years and no one ever wants to talk about it. I am talking about from the Top Brass to the lowest person. It’s almost like a Top Secret Mission to cover it all up. It was the same back then as it is today.

    Now I want to tell my story….

    When you think of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) you think women being raped by men, but there were over 20,000 males raped in 2009 who have been raped too. When you think of Male who has Military Sexual Trauma (MST) you think male on male rape. I am a Survivor I have Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTST and no male has ever touched me.

    It was my Supervisor during the week and she was a female. She was in a position that she used her higher rank and position to get what she wanted. Then the threats came in… but I reported it after it took the best of me. Once I reported it to the military they didn’t remove her or change her position. If the role was reversed I as a male would have been moved that day no questions asked. But she got to stay while they investigated it. If they ever did investigate it I still remember it like it was yesterday, step by step. I want to stop thinking and dreaming about it but it is hard when the person who violated you works at the Dallas VA Hospital where I go for medical care and have been since 2007.

    I had her as a supervisor for another year and thoughts of suicide was in my head every time I came to work. She would harassment and embarrassed me in from of my peers. My doctor put me on 2mg bars of Xanax, 280 pills a month. Then I became an addicted to them. Today I still have to take something for my anxiety; because I see her every time I go to the Dallas VA Hospital for medical appointments.

    When I came off active duty I didn’t leave my house for over two years which means no medication for my injuries and Military Sexual Trauma PTSD (MST) or my Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was too scared to go to the Dallas VA to get treatment because I found out that she worked there. Yes, it had been over ten years and it still had a big impact on my life today.

    Today I still cannot sleep, have anxiety, panic attacks, and broken relationship with my fiancée who I had dated over five years. I became a work alcoholic and buried myself in my work. I felt ashamed like I did something wrong. When I reported it not more than five minutes I received a phone call from both of our supervisor who started screaming at me as loud as she could over the phone. Telling me I was a lair and why would I do this to her. This went on for over 30 minutes I broken down over the phone and told her that I was telling the truth but she didn’t believe me. Once I got off the phone I went and told the head person in charge of the hold battalion during the week days. She was also my First Sergeant on the weekends which means she was using her military rank as in uniform during the weekend and during the week days she was in civilian position. She was what they called dual status, reservist and civilian personnel.

    I had never in my life taken pills. I was the Division Master Fitness Trainer. I was in excellent shape before I was transferred to this new unit because our other unit was deactivated. She was on me my first day there and I told her I was not interested. I kept my personal life away from my professional life. She would not take no for an answer and I didn’t know anyone in this unit or who I could trust or who would believe me. I mean come on a woman wants a man…most men would had jumped on it. That is what all the men kept telling me.

    I had a perfect career and was on fast track up to this point. I was an E5 with 4 MSMs awards which this is unheard of in the military. When you hear of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTSD remember it’s not only females, or male on male rape. Women are part of this mess too and they will use their rank and position to get what they want. I will never forget the words she used…. I always get what I want.

    I have been asking for Military Sexual Trauma MST treatment for male soldiers but they keep telling me I don’t qualified because mine was a female, not a male on male rape. I do not believe I would get any support for several years from the Dallas VA Hospital but they keep telling me do this first or take these pills. I have been given so many pills to take that I almost killed myself several times.

    This letter is in no disrespect to my fellow sister-in-arms back then and today, but I felt that my story needed to be told because I know it is still going on today. I have sent you an email with my full email address and phone number. I also used the eJournal. Albuquerque Journal, NM

    Thank you for letting me share my story.

    Richard H

  • Elphaba2008

    I wish the veterans would have named their attackers.

  • Uberbrawd

    She was disgusting in handling a very violent issue.