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.