Final punishment: As Wisconsin National Guard officer Megan Plunkett took steps to leave the Guard after she said she was sexually assaulted three times, officials tried to revoke her benefits
May 11, 2019
“I was like, ‘I’m out, I just want to be left alone.’ I don’t want to cause more problems and then he came at me with fraternization. Are you ... kidding me?” she said. “He… assaulted me and how dare they accuse me of fraternization without asking me what happened?”Eight months after the Wisconsin Army National Guard finished its investigations into 1st Lt. Megan Plunkett’s sexual assault claims, they tried to kick her out.
They did so even though Plunkett was already making her own way out. She was going through a medical discharge for post-traumatic stress disorder connected to alleged sexual assaults by two different men in two different units she served in.
She was not actively training at that time but was having a consensual relationship with an enlisted soldier in her unit. After the relationship ended, Plunkett said that man also sexually assaulted her. As it did in the first two cases, the Guard said her allegations were unsubstantiated, but they went one step further than that, finding Plunkett guilty of “fraternization.” In the military, officers are forbidden to have sexual relationships with enlisted soldiers.
As of today, Plunkett has won some measure of vindication from other agencies. A panel of out-of-state Army officers ultimately rejected the Guard's attempt to strip her benefits and status, though that ruling is not yet final. Separately, the Veterans Administration awarded her full service-connected disability compensation and medical benefits for PTSD, which they determined was caused by military sexual trauma she experienced in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
'Failure to Protect'
This week, the Cap Times is publishing “Failure to Protect,” a four-part investigation by reporter Katelyn Ferral into the Wisconsin Army National Guard and its treatment of soldiers who are sexually abused in its service. The series is centered on 1st Lt. Megan Plunkett, a soldier who says she was sexually assaulted by three different Guard colleagues over the course of three years.
After she brought those allegations forward, the Guard not only decided that they were unsubstantiated, but took multiple steps to punish her. Plunkett eventually brought her story to the Cap Times, and after a four-month investigation including access to extensive records of a type rarely available to the public, we are sharing her story with you. It is alarming, nuanced and sometimes graphic, but it is important to hear, coming amidst growing concern among government officials in Wisconsin and nationally about the number of military sexual abuse victims and their treatment.
Part one focused on Plunkett’s allegations, the Guard’s responses and also explains its procedures for responding to sexual assault allegations.
Part two took a close look at a yearlong, internal Guard investigation into Plunkett’s first unit, which concluded that it had a longstanding culture of sexual misconduct.
Part three examined the phenomenon of “military sexual trauma” as well as Plunkett’s often frustrating efforts to maintain consistent medical care and legal representation.
Part four (below) describes the Guard’s final — and at this point, unsuccessful — effort to strip Plunkett of military benefits even after she was in the process of getting a discharge for medical reasons.
read more here