As members of Congress grill military personnel over their handling of sexual assault and rape cases, the woman whose story sparked the latest outrage has finally spoken out on Wednesday.
Kimberly Hanks — who is identifying herself for the first time — detailed her ordeal last year after Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was convicted by a military jury of aggravated sexual assault. The outrage over the case stems from the fact that later, a top military commander, Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, dismissed the conviction for what appeared to be no reason at all.
Speaking to the “Today” show on Wednesday, Hanks tearfully described the harrowing incident, because “I couldn’t let this guy get away with it.”
“I opened my eyes and he was in bed with me with his hands down my pants,” said Hanks.
Hanks said she was “absolutely stunned” when she heard that the conviction had been overturned.
“It looks to me that he is protecting one of his own,” she said.
Hanks’ case has caused a firestorm in Congress, which held hearings on Wendesday during which numerous sexual assault victims detailed their experience with the military’s “broken” justice system.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. was visibly incensed at the scale of injustice occurring, calling the Wilkerson case “shocking.”
“I question now whether that unit that that man returns to, where there’s any chance if a woman’s sexually assaulted in that unit [she] would ever say a word,” said Gillibrand. “Because what that general just said was ‘that jury’s decision didn’t matter.’
At the hearing, Sen. Gillibrand told military officers that “I appreciate the work you’re doing, but it’s not enough,”according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Hanks says she has no regrets about her decision to come forward.
“Well, I couldn’t let this guy get away with it I did the right thing,” she said. “I reported it, I told the truth.”
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