During the Iowa PBS debate on Thursday, Mike Franken claimed that he has always taken sexual assault allegations "seriously," but an investigation into U.S Africa Command's (AFRICOM) handling of sexual assault tells a different story.

Franken loves to tout that he was the Deputy Commander of AFRICOM from June 2015  to  August 2017, but during that time the Intercept found that "while many of the files are heavily redacted, making it impossible to identify the military personnel involved, they nonetheless shine a light on the operations of U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, whose commanders and troops have been embroiled in a long series of scandals. Even more striking is the fact that the number of incidents described in the files are more than double the Pentagon’s official sexual assault figures for the African continent, highlighting the degree to which the military has failed to properly track cases of sexual offenses, thereby masking the overall severity of the problem."

The Intercept story continues, "between 2010 and 2020, the year of the most recent report, the Pentagon lists just 73 cases of sexual assault in the AFRICOM area of operations. Yet the files obtained by The Intercept and Type Investigations show that military criminal investigators logged at least 158 allegations of sexual offenses in the AFRICOM area of operations during that same period." 

The 158 allegations occurred in 22 separate countries in Africa - 13 of which did not appear in the Pentagon report.

158 allegations may not even show the whole picture. Most of those allegations "represent cases in which a member of the armed forces, or someone assaulted by them, wanted to seek justice through the military system."

The Intercept ends by saying, "the prevalence of these cases at AFRICOM highlights the degree to which military leaders have created a culture in which indiscipline and criminal behavior have been allowed to flourish at the command."

You can read the full story here.

Iowans deserve to know Mike Franken's role in this failure to take allegations seriously. Franken was the Deputy Commander - the leader of this failure.

Franken must answer for his negligence: 

  • Did he know AFRICOM was underreporting sexual misconduct? If so, when did he find out?
  • What role did he have in the report to the Pentagon?
  • Was he ever a subject of an investigation into this scandal?
  • Did he ever try to stop this?

"Mike Franken needs to tell Iowans what involvement he had in the underreporting of sexual misconduct under his watch," said Republican Party of Iowa Communications Director Kollin Crompton. "Considering Mike Franken's past scandals, Iowans deserve to know."


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