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Army changes sexual assault case policies
By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- The Army changes the way it handles sexual assault cases but some say it is not the right way to go about it.
Victims of sexual assault in the Army, including those on Fort Bliss, will now have access to an Army attorney as soon as they report the crime, which was not the case before.
As of Nov. 1, soldiers who reported a sexual assault incident will have an Army attorney if they choose to guide them through the process. There's no mention if civilians will too have those same rights, and this is just one of the issues some on this post have with the changes.
"I really don't see how that's going to work. I really just feel bad for the victims," said Phillip Martin, security supervisor at Fort Bliss.
Martin also spent much of his time fighting for victims of sexual assault.
"There's a lot of spotlight on this problem right now and they're putting bandages on it, and they're throwing training at it. They're not really getting to the heart of what we need to do to take care of these victims," Martin said.
Only KFOX14 brought you the story of Michelle Ten Eyck in June. She was a Fort Bliss civilian employee who brought sexual assault charges against Fort Bliss Chaplain Major Geoffrey Alleyene.
Alleyene admitted to inappropriately touching her and pursuing a sexual relationship with her for months.
He pleaded guilty to lesser assault charges and got a six-month prison sentence.
Besides the prosecuting attorney representing the government, Ten Eyck was never given any legal representation throughout her process.
Now, things are changing.
Victims who report sexual assault will be entitled to an Army attorney, more formally known as a special victim's counselor.
"Let's give them the opportunity to have an Army attorney present. Is that what all the victims told them? Because none of the victims I've talked to voted on that. Their opinion was just the opposite," Martin said.
Martin feels this isn't the answer and says these cases need to be taken out of the chain of command.
Ten Eyck's attorney agrees.
"As an Army attorney, the counselor may be subject to command influence which is a powerful force. The command may have an agenda or ulterior motives not in line with the best interest of the victim," said Joshua Friedman, attorney.
"I'm very proud of the United States Army. I've been a part of it for 20 years. I know that they can tackle a lot of very difficult issues. I've seen them do it. But this is a problem that's not going to go away," Martin said.
KFOX14 reached out to Fort Bliss officials, but they did not respond to our request by deadline.