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Air Force Sex Scandal Gets Hotter

The heat is being turned up on the U.S. Air Force Academy over its alleged treatment of dozens of female cadets and former cadets accusing male classmates of rape or sexual assault.

Three alleged victims tell The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm the academy is essentially turning a deaf ear to their charges, and protecting their attackers.

Some 60 female cadets have come forward saying they'd been sexually assaulted or raped at the prestigious military school in Colorado Springs over a 10-year span.

Rick Sallinger of CBS station KCNC-TV in Denver reports that Air Force promises of reform are being put to the test in the court martial on rape counts of First Lt. Joseph Harding.

The proceedings were put on hold last week over a victim's privacy issue, when civilian rape counselor Jennifer Bier refused to turn over subpoenaed records of her sessions with accuser and former cadet Jessica Brakey. A warrant was then issued for Bier's arrest by a military judge.

"I think it sends a very clear message that one of the ways to defeat a case pending against you is to intimidate the victim and to threaten to expose her most intimate and private thoughts," Bier says.

Prosecutors are appealing the delay, but Bier is afraid the charges could be dropped.

"They do not hold offenders accountable," she says.

Brakey says she was afraid for two years to come forward with her story of having been raped at an outdoor training exercise during her freshman year.

She told Storm Monday that the response of her superiors left much to be desired: "I was hoping they were going to help me. But as time progressed, I started to realize that the more information that they had was the more that they could eventually use against me."

Brakey says she feels "violated" over the hold in Harding's court martial: "This has been hanging over my head for two years. And they've had, the Air Force has had numerous opportunities to do the right thing; they just haven't. It's devastating."

Ex-cadet Sharon Fullilove says she was raped by an upper classman she "was familiar with, who I trusted, who had always been kind to the freshman in my squadron. And I really had been told, if something like this happens to you, you're not supposed to report it, or you will be kicked out of the academy. And it had been my dream for my whole life to go there. So I wasn't about to mess that up."

Fullilove's mother is an Air Force colonel.

Fullilove confirmed to Storm that she was told by others she'd be lucky to make it through her four years at the academy without being assaulted: "It's a shame that that's what it's come to there, but you're told that on quite a few occasions, especially when you first get there during basic training and you are told that you don't want to say anything, or they'll find a way to kick you out."

The account of former cadet Beth Davis is much the same.

She's told superiors she was assaulted on multiple occasions by the same attacker. He was given an honorable discharge from the Air Force.

Davis says many female cadets in her position feel as she does: betrayed.

In her case, "He's free to do whatever he wants. He was pretty much a pre-med major at the academy. It scares me to death that he may be providing some sort of health care to people out there with nothing on his record."

As for the dozens of accusers whose accusations haven't resulted in one conviction, Davis says, "It's indicative of a horrible culture (at the academy) as far as women are concerned. They really don't want us there. The surveys prove that. It's a shame. But it definitely is not sending the right messages."

Attorney Wendy Murphy, a CBS News consultant, represents Bier, the rape counselor in hot water over refusing to turn over Brakey's records.

She bristles that the academy's record speaks for itself: "Sixty cases and not a single conviction. On one side of their mouth, the Air Force is saying, 'We care deeply. We want to encourage reporting.' Women are dying in service to their country. Three women died last week alone. The least they can do is protect women from rape while they're learning to become good soldiers and good officers.

"What I hear and what I see is that they do not want women reporting rape. They want to protect rapists. The message that I see is they think rapists make good soldiers."

Murphy asserts Brakey is "being treated like the culprit, unfortunately. She did all the right things that they expected of her. She reported the case, she participated in all the counseling they told her to go to. They had the audacity to say they were going to give her justice. And when push came to shove, they used her most intimate thoughts, her healing records, against her, forcing her to choose literally between justice and healing. That is unconscionable. It's not a civilized way to run a legal system."

Brakey says the Air Force must "hold these people accountable or, it's telling them in so many words that it's OK to do this, and giving them vindication and validation."

Murphy added, "I've heard the Air Force describes (the subpoena on Bier) as just a way of coercing compliance with the subpoena. I see it as a form of extortion, literally forcing the therapist, and even forcing Jessica, the victim, to choose between justice and healing."

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