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AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
John Johnson, the father of Army Pfc.
LaVena Lynn Johnson, at the family’s
home in Florissant, Mo.

Is U.S. Military Covering Up Rape, Murder?

June 30, 2008 10:08 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
The case of U.S. Army Private LaVena Johnson, who some say was raped and murdered in Iraq, highlights the possibility of a wide-ranging U.S. military cover-up.

30-Second Summary

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Private LaVena Johnson, a 19-year-old U.S. Army private whose battered body was returned to the U.S. from Iraq in 2005, has raised suspicion of a military cover-up. Johnson’s death was ruled a suicide, but her injuries suggest rape and murder, according to her family.

Johnson’s death has brought a troubling issue to the fore: almost one in three U.S. military women are raped or sexually assaulted by their own comrades, according to U.S Department of Defense statistics.

The report found that the military often classifies murders preceded by rape as “non-combat related injuries.” Data that is “purposely underreported by the Veterans Administration” shows that, since 2002, most suicides by male soldiers have been committed on U.S. soil, whereas most “suicides” by female soldiers have been committed outside the U.S., in Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

“The circumstances surrounding each of these deaths warrants further investigation by the US military,” said the Web site Common Dreams.

Fear often prevents female soldiers from reporting rape, and not much has been done to increase safety measures for women serving in Iraq, according to Salon.

Headline Links: Johnson’s case spurs suspicions

Background: Danger in the military

Reference: Responses to the problem

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