Military sexual assault is not a new phenomenon. A second look at the Tailhook scandal in 1991 reveals what happened then. And what it all means now.
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The Legacy of Tailhook

Tailhook. It was called the worst case of sexual harassment in the U.S. Navy’s history and led to promises of culture change. But almost three decades later, how much has really changed?

To answer that, we look at what really happened at the 35th Annual Tailhook convention, where investigators later determined that 83 women and 7 men had been sexually assaulted. With interviews with some of those involved – like former Navy lieutenant Paula Coughlin, who stepped into the national spotlight when she said she had been sexually assaulted at Tailhook – the story provides new context for the current crisis over sexual assault in the military.

The Pentagon recently estimated that 26,000 troops were sexually assaulted last year, an increase from 19,000 in 2010. And yet only 3,374 were reported. Only days before the Pentagon report was released, the officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention programs was arrested and charged with sexual battery.

As The Legacy of Tailhook explores and President Obama aptly noted, “This is not a new phenomenon.”


More on the Story

In the military, trusted officers have become alleged assailants in sex crimes The Washington Post
In historic decision, Pentagon chief opens all jobs in combat units to women The Washington Post
First Two Women to Graduate Friday from Army Ranger School
Pentagon accused of withholding information about sex crimes The Associate Press
Revisiting the Tailhook Sexual Assault Scandal The Takeaway
Related Coverage
Revisiting the Military’s Tailhook Scandal The New York Times
Retro Report: The Legacy of Tailhook The Huffington Post