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Soldiers try to define sexual harassment

November 18, 1996
Web posted at: 11:20 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Jamie McIntyre

ABERDEEN, Maryland (CNN) -- While rape and sexual harassment charges in the Army are making headlines, it's fraternization -- improper romantic relationships between supervisor and soldiers -- that is the more widespread problem, according to Army officials.

Recruits fresh out of boot camp say that everybody thinks there's a lot of amorous activity going on, but not all the young soldiers consider it sexual harassment.

"It's all a matter of how you take it. Different people take things different ways. It's the situation, and what kind of a person you are," said Pvt. Carrie Blevens.


The recent media coverage and influx of calls to a new Army sexual harassment hot line have everyone extremely aware of their own and others' actions, soldiers report.

"Now it's like, since this is going on, they are like, 'Oh my gosh -- somebody's going to say something,'" said Pvt. Shadaya Reynolds.

Pvt. Lasharone Wilson said male-female interactions that were no big deal are being seen differently now.

Wilson (8 sec./84K AIFF or WAV sound)icon

The Army deals with the issue of interactions by keeping young soldiers so busy, they don't have much time for a social life.

But what might be misbehavior of the relative few is changing the environment for the many, possibly unfairly.


"My 17 years of faithful service has been cheapened by the events that have occurred by a selected few," said 1st Sgt. James Herrell.

The rules on fraternization are constantly repeated: military supervisors -- male or female -- cannot engage in any relationship with soldiers they supervise.

brown Some soldiers say it's not just the supervisor at fault. "It works both ways. If they both want to play, they both should pay for it," said Pvt. Ruth Brown.

But it's the non-commissioned and commissioned officers, not the privates, that the Army holds responsible. It's unlikely any privates will face charges, because that would essentially punish the victims, Army sources said.


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