From The Desk Of Darlene J. Harris – Interview with SFC Toni Nelson Coordinator In The Department Of The US Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Department

Greetings Everyone;

We trust the information shared throughout the month of April produced a greater understanding about why “Awareness Education and Prevention” is critical to safety of our society, especially our children.

Our last publication for the month is from SFC Toni Nelson Coordinator in the United States Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Department.

SFC Nelson gives an interview explaining the Military procedures and policies when addressing the crimes of sexual violence.

Lastly, we want to acknowledge everyone that shared their expertise with And He Restoreth My Soul Project during April.


Darlene J. Harris

Question: Can you provide history about the Department of the Military involvement with the crimes of Sexual Assault.

Answer: Initially the Army’s approach was reactive (responding to events) and its emphasis was on modifying victim behavior as a means of reducing incidents. By 2004, the Army decided to employ new tactics—go on the offensive and be proactive in prevention and intervention, and focus efforts on addressing offender behaviors and accountability. This approach aligns with outcomes of the victims’ rights movements and positions the Army to shape its own future, instead of managing incidents.

The Army integrated the SAPR mission with the military Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) mission (formerly administered by the Army’s Equal Opportunity [EO] and Equal Employment Opportunity [EEO] Programs). In 2009, Army leadership directed that both sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention be handled by SARC/SHARP and VA/SHARP Specialists. This decision is being codified in policy. This change will enable a consistent approach and place equal emphasis on the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Question: How long have you worked in the Department of the Military that deals with Sexual Assault?

Answer: 3 years

Question: Why did you choose to focus your career in the Military on Sexual Assault and/or Domestic Violence?

Answer: I was assigned to meet regulatory guidance by Department of Defense (DoD)

Question: Do you see a significant change between from when the programs started and now. If so, will you share your thoughts on the changes you have seen or experience?

Answer: Yes. The program is not just victim focused. It now includes information and process to enhance prevention, advocacy, assessment, investigation accountability.

Question: What training is required by the personnel who serve as members of your response teams?

Answer: 80 hour SHARP training and Continuing education 32 hours every two years

SARC/SHARP and VA/SHARP Specialists share a number of responsibilities to victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including:

  • Provide care and support to victims

  • Process reports of sexual assault

  • Facilitate Sexual Harassment SHARP training

  • Additionally, SARC/SHARP Specialists have the responsibility alone to:

Enter report data into the SHARP ICRS and DSAID, as applicable. These systems are interactive, web-based applications that allow the SARC/SHARP Specialist to enter and manage sexual harassment and sexual assault case data

Securely store DD Forms 2910 and 2911, which are the Victim Reporting Preference Statement and DOD Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Report, respectively (we will discuss the retention of both forms in greater detail later in the lesson)

Provide 24/7 response capability

Question: How has the training changed from when you begin to the current time?

Answer: It is progressive and address the needs that span across the entire SHARP program

Question: What changes in your current practice would you like to see changed, if any?

Answer: Cultural Change

Question: Can you share the disciplinary actions process when the abuser is found guilty?

Answer: Criminal incidents in the Army will be reported to military police. Serious crimes and incidents as defined by AR 195-2 will be reported and investigated by Criminal Investigation Division (CID) personnel. UCMJ Article 120, Rape, Sexual Assault, and Other Sexual Misconducts, and Article 125, Sodomy, fall under the CID investigative responsibility.

Remember, sexual assault is a violation of Army Values, contradicts the Warrior Ethos and is contrary to the Soldier’s Creed.

Question: Is the Military involved in law changes outside of the Military?

Answer: Not to my knowledge

Question: Can you provide any statistical information which reflects the last 10 years?

Answer: All statics for the military in whole can be found in the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military

The following Statics come from the website mentioned above:

Table 1: Unrestricted Reports of Sexual Assault by Alleged Offense and Military Status, FY12

Most Serious Offense Alleged in Report

Total Unrestricted Reports Number of Reports Involving Service Members as Victims and Number of Reports Involving Non-Service Members as Victims


Total 676

Service Members as Victims 467 Non-Service Members as Victims 209

Aggravated Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault

Total 724

Service Members as Victims 573 Non-Service Members as Victims  151

Aggravated Sexual Contact

Total 92

Service Members as Victims 70 Non-Service Members as Victims 22

Abusive Sexual Contact

Total 308

Services Member as Victims 252 Non-Service Members as Victims 56

Wrongful Sexual Contact

Total 580

Service Member as Victims 478 Non-Service Members as Victims 102

Indecent Assault

Total 6

Service Member as Victims 6 Non-Service Members 0

Non-consensual Sodomy

Total 162

Service Members as Victims 129 Non-Service Members as Victims 33

Attempts to Commit Offenses

Total 10

Service Members as Victims 10 Non-Service Members 0

Total Unrestricted Reports in FY12

Total 2,558

Service Members as Victims 1,985 Non-Service Members 573

Investigations of Unrestricted Reports According to DoD policy, each Unrestricted Report requires an investigation. Consequently, there were 2,558 sexual assault investigations initiated in FY12 (Exhibit 1, Point D). The length of an investigation depends on a number of factors, including: The offense alleged; The location and availability of the victim, subject, and witnesses; The amount and kind of physical evidence gathered during the investigation; and The length of time required for crime laboratory analysis of evidence. Depending on these and other factors, investigation length may range from a few months to over a year. Consequently, sexual assault investigations and their outcomes can span multiple reporting periods. There were 2,610 sexual assault investigations completed during FY12 (Exhibit 1, Point F).


SHARP – Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention
SARC – Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
UCMJ – Uniform Code of Military Justice
VA – Victim Advocate
SAPR – Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
DOD – Department of Defense
DSAID – Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database

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