Following her dismissal for being “derelict in the performance of [her] duties,” the Air Force Academy’s former sexual assault response coordinator raised her own concerns Monday about the institution's handling of sexual assault cases.
Teresa Beasley was removed from her position as SARC and stripped of all supervisory responsibilities following a report that found she failed to manage staff, spread rumors about personnel, permitted a climate of favoritism, and demonstrated a lack of competency over her decade-long tenure.
In the first of a two-part CBS This Morning special, Beasley spoke about the treatment of sexual assault victims at the academy.
“There are usually negative things said on anonymous social media. They are ostracized frequently by their squad mates. And, usually, word spreads pretty fast, and word gets out about who is the victim,” Beasley said. “They’ll have their nameplates taken off their room and thrown on the ground. People won’t sit with them at lunch.”
Beasley alleged the poor treatment of those who report sexual assault isn’t only perpetrated by other cadets.
“Some commanders, unfortunately, will begin retaliating on the cadet as well,” she said.
Beasley declined to speak to Air Force Times, saying “there is a second part to the CBS broadcast tomorrow [Tuesday] morning, I would ask please to defer commenting until Wednesday of this week.”
However, in a statement to Air Force Times, academy spokesman Meade Warthen iterated the institution’s concern over allegations of sexual assault.
“The Air Force Academy is deeply concerned by the allegations regarding the treatment of sexual assault victims at the Academy,” Warthen said. “Dozens of professionals like Special Victims Counselors, Mental Health Professionals, Victim Advocates and more dedicate themselves day in and day out to the service of caring for the victims of this horrible crime.”
“But the Academy is also focused on the root cause and believes creating and sustaining a climate of dignity and respect is absolutely essential to ending the scourge of sexual assault. One assault is too many, and we will never rest until the number is zero,” Warthen added.
Two students who said they left the academy after they were sexually assaulted by fellow cadets also spoke to CBS.
“I was sexually assaulted my freshmen year,” said Emily Hazen, who was supposed to graduate in 2015. “My perpetrator would follow me on runs. He would tell me he urinated on my car. He would write crude things on my car, like, in the fog. He would send me horrible text messages.”
Hazen’s harasser was only reprimanded after he sent her a “very crude text message,” and was simply told it “was unbecoming of an officer,” she said.
He eventually graduated, while she left the academy altogether, Hazen added, according to the CBS report.
Melissa Hildremyr also left the academy following a sexual assault incident where she and fellow cadets were drinking underage. However, she said agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations didn’t take her case seriously, according to the CBS report.
“They would say things like, ‘These guys have every reason to tell the truth, and you have every reason to lie,’“ Hildremyr told CBS. “They made me feel like it was my fault this had happened to me.”
The second part of the CBS This Morning special airs Tuesday. Beasley will appear again, as will Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria.
Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.