Special Investigator's National Guard Report Released
June 15, 2015
June 15, 2015 (Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Craig Richards today released the public report from the special investigator, retired Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, regarding the Alaska National Guard (AKNG).
Ms. Collins was asked to take a comprehensive look into the circumstances surrounding allegations of sexual abuse and harassment within the AKNG between 2010 and 2014 and report her findings. Her investigation included going over all of the previous reports; reviewing thousands of pages of documents, including the unredacted records recently released in relation to the public records litigation; conducting over 60 interviews; and accessing additional information from various agencies and individuals. The original contract with Ms. Collins allowed up to $50,000 for an hourly fee of $156.84. In the end, the investigation took over four months to complete, and Ms. Collins donated over 100 hours of her time pro bono to complete the investigation, after the contract amount had been reached.
It was Ms. Collins’ extensive background in criminal justice and long career on the bench that made her an excellent candidate to take on this task. “Patricia brought a wealth of judicial and criminal law experience to the job,” said Attorney General Richards. “As a judge, she is used to weighing evidence and taking an independent view. She is also adept at asking questions and digging deeper to get to the truth. I sincerely appreciate her willingness to take on this task and for the countless hours she has spent over the past five months conducting her investigation.”
The public report from Ms. Collins concludes that the command climate at AKNG was not conducive to reporting complaints of any kind much less those of sexual assault and harassment prior to 2013. While a system existed for reporting sexual assaults, the environment of the AKNG at the time resulted in significant fear of retaliation by National Guard members if claims of sexual assault or harassment were brought forward.
The report finds that there were 16 sexual assault reports made to AKNG officials between 2010 and 2014. In 10 of those cases, AKNG members were identified as the perpetrators. According to the report, most of the cases were properly investigated by law enforcement. Additionally, some cases resulted in personnel actions being taken against the perpetrator up to and including “other than honorable discharge.”
The report also finds that there were allegations of sexual misconduct in certain personnel documents that went unaddressed, likely adding to the distrust of AKNG command. The kind of conduct described in these allegations includes sexual relations by AKNG members with members of a lower rank, sexual relations during work hours or in AKNG buildings, and hostile work environment issues. While these allegations do not rise to the level of criminal misconduct, they could still result in disciplinary proceedings within AKNG. The report finds that few of these allegations were investigated or otherwise addressed prior to 2013.
After 2013 and even more so following the issuance of the report by the Office of Complex Investigations in 2014, the report finds that AKNG began making some positive changes. Victim’s Counsel and a new Statewide Equal Employment Manager are currently in place. The newly appointed Provost Marshall is also developing a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement agencies to improve information sharing between agencies. Also, the National Guard Bureau is sending additional attorneys to assist the AKNG with personnel actions.
The report points out three cases that Ms. Collins believes should be reopened based on new information. The Department of Law will evaluate each of those cases in light of Ms. Collins findings and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.
The report included a number of recommendations for AKNG. For more information on those recommendations and the various changes being implemented by AKNG, contact the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Ms. Collins began a long career practicing law in Alaska after receiving her law degree from Gonzaga University in 1982. Much of her career was spent on criminal justice issues. She started her career in private practice, focusing mainly on labor law and criminal defense issues until 1995. During that time, she also worked part-time as a Federal Magistrate Judge and as an adjunct professor for the University of Alaska Southeast. In 1995, she was appointed as an Alaska District Court Judge, and then in 1999, Governor Tony Knowles appointed her as a Superior Court Judge for the First Judicial District. She retired from that post in 2011. She was selected as the special investigator this past January.
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