Airman First Class Jane Neubauer was working as an informant for the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations in the summer of 2013 when she claims she was raped. According to an investigative report from Jacob Siegel at The Daily Beast, Neubauer was undercover at a party with restaurant workers who were possibly pushing drugs onto her base in Biloxi, Mississippi. After she reported being raped, she says OSI officers cut off communication with her. She is now being investigated for falsifying the investigation of her sexual assault.
Siegel details Neubauer's account of the night of July 26, 2013. At the party, she went to the bathroom when a man she didn't know burst open the door:
According to Neubauer, the man closed his hand around her throat and told her that he knew who she was and where she lived and that he knew she’d been working as an informant. He called her a snitch. Then, she says, he raped her.
Officially, the Air Force is not disputing Neubauer’s account. But "she is under investigation" for falsifying the report of her sexual assault, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage says. Neubauer, for her part, says that since the rape OSI has placed her under constant investigation for unspecified crimes, and has repeatedly threatened that she could be court martialed.
After Neubauer reported the assault, the OSI agents who originally recruited her were sympathetic. For one day. After discussing the matter with her once, The Daily Beast reports, they cut off communication with her and stopped answering her calls. Shortly after, Neubauer "began to believe that OSI was preparing to accuse her of falsifying her rape."
Since the alleged assault, Neubauer has been severely depressed and suicidal. She failed out of weather school (the Air Force's competitive meteorology program) and was picked up for a DUI with pot in her car. The OSI has used these infractions to try to discredit Neubauer and her account, she says. Air Force commanders would largely not comment on the investigation into Neubauer. She claims she still doesn't know exactly what she's being investigated for.
Neubauer's story brings up many complicated questions — how should the military deal with drug abuse in its ranks? How young is too young to work as an informant? (Neubauer was only 23 at the time of her alleged assault.) And is there still such a stigma against reporting sexual assault that an alleged victim feels threatened by retaliation?
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who wants to take sexual assault cases outside the military chain of command, is confident that her bill to do so will pass. In the next two weeks, her proposal will finally get a vote in the Senate (so will Sen. Claire McCaskill's proposal, which would not take cases outside the chain of command). Gillibrand currently has 55 public supporters in the Senate, but she'll need 5 more votes to overcome a likely filibuster. In a CBS News interview on Monday, Gillibrand underlined the reasons for her reform, saying commanders "are the only ones responsible to prevent these rapes from happening, creating a command climate where victims can come forward, and then making sure that they're not retaliated against ... It's time to stop the status quo."
You should read Neubauer's story in full here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.