Air Force Lawyer Receives Warning for Expressing Views on Military Sexual Assault Policy

An Air Force lawyer got off with a warning and “verbal counseling” after being too vocal about her views on military sexual assault policy, The Washington Post reports.

On December 2, Maribel Jarzabek wrote a long comment detailing her experiences in the military as a sexual assault lawyer and openly advocated in support of legislative reform on New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand‘s Facebook wall — in complete violation of Air Force regulations. “Changes are needed, and it’s time that the public knew about the military’s true dirty little secrets!” the active-duty Capt. Jarzabek wrote.

Soon after the post went live, an Air Force official wrote the disillusioned and frustrated lawyer a letter informing her she was under investigation. Current military regulations do not allow public participation in political causes while in uniform. Several weeks later, Jarzabeck was found guilty, though the only punishment she received was “verbal counseling” and a small warning. Nothing will appear on her record from the incident. Jarzabeck believes it was an attempt to silence dissent.

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Sen. Gillibrand’s Facebook post discussed her efforts to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act. The proposed legislation would transfer several powers from commanders to prosecutors, but the Pentagon has remained in steadfast opposition.

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According to officials, such a move would undermine the command structure. Sen. Gillibrand almost passed the legislation during her last attempt, but it ended up failing by 5 votes and so did not pass the procedural requirement. Instead, the Senate decided to take the middle ground by passing more moderate legislation forwarded by Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill from Missouri. Still, for Sen. Gillibrand, the reforms just aren’t enough, and Jarzabeck agreed and subsequently felt compelled to publicly air her grievances with the military.

“I told the truth,” said Jarzabek, 34. “I do believe they are trying to silence me and also send a message to other special-victim counsels who agree with me but are afraid to speak up.”

Just this Wednesday, Maribel Jarzabek wrote on Facebook: “Apparently, other AF lawyers are above the law, but I’m not, as I did not toe the company line.”

Jarzabeck will not be filing a retaliation complaint with the Defense Department‘s inspector general, as she thinks it’s a pointless exercise.


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