Court Case: Klay et al v. Panetta et al

Case Adopted 03/12

Case History

Ariana Klay is one of eight plaintiffs suing the U.S. military for allegedly creating a culture in which sexual assault and rape are tolerated and in which people who report it face retaliation.

Klay says she was raped by a fellow officer and his friend while she was stationed at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Klay says that after she reported it, she was accused of inviting the attack by wearing makeup and her regulation-length skirt. One of the rapists was court-martialed but, as often happens in the cases of reported rapes, was convicted of a lesser crime: adultery and indecent language.

Klay and the other seven plaintiffs allege that U.S. military officials tolerate sexual predators in their ranks and antagonize service members who report rape, sexual assault, and harassment. The plaintiffs say that this culture of sexual assault violates their constitutional rights.

The case was filed on March 6, 2012, in the District of Columbia by lawyer Susan Burke. AAUW CEO Linda D. Hallman spoke at the National Press Club event and emphasized AAUW’s deep concerns about an apparent pattern of sexual assault in the military and reminded the audience of a similar case that AAUW is also supporting, Cioca v. Rumsfeld, also filed by Susan Burke and centered on the issue of sexual assault in the military.

Burke and several of the plaintiffs from both cases, including the named plaintiff Ariana Klay, are featured in The Invisible War, a documentary about sexual assault in the military. The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January 2012 and won the Audience Award.

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