Sexual Assault Stand-Down with Minnesota National Guard

Sexual assault data was presented stating that from the years 2014 to 2018, 90 sexual assaults were reported.

DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota National Guard hosted the final installment of a three-part Sexual Assault Stand-Down series at the 148th Fighter Wing on Wednesday.

High ranking members of the guard presented sexual assault data stating that from the years 2014 to 2018, 90 sexual assaults were reported.

The highest ranking member of the military in Minnesota, Major General Jon A. Jensen visited the 148th as part of the series aimed at preventing sexual assault across the Minnesota National Guard.

About 300 full-time soldiers, airmen and civilian employees gathered for the two-hour event.

A sexual assault survivor in the Minnesota National Guard also spoke so the event itself was not open to the media.

But, at a news conference, Major General Jensen stressed how the Minnesota National Guard works tirelessly to support the victims, and the purpose of the day is to prevent any further assaults.

“The message of we’re here, we care, we believe you, we are here to support you, to our offenders we’re here, we care, we believe our victims and we are going to support them and you can expect the same intention in the opposite way your way,” said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, The Adjutant General in Minnesota.

Colonel Chris Blomquist of the 148th wants to make sure guard members are willing to report assaults and does not want them to worry about retaliation.

“Our people are our number one resource and we want to take care of them more than we take care of anything else. The first thing in that is ensuring that they are treated properly and are well taken care of and we don’t let this behavior occur here and if it does we need to know about it so we can stop it,” said Col. Chris Blomquist, of the 148th Fighter Wing.

Of the 90 total sexual assault reports, 39 of them were restricted, meaning the victim’s report is confidential and does not trigger investigation or chain of command involvement.

The military has started what is called the CATCH program database so victims with restricted reports can anonymously name their offender.

“This gives the client the victim or the survivor sexual assault survivor access to that system. They can go in anonymously they don’t have to inform us. They can name their offender and the system compares those names to other cases and so if we have a serial offender they can be gone after,” said John Thompson, a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for the Minnesota National Guard.

The Minnesota National Guard reports all unrestricted cases to local law enforcement for review.

Those local agencies are the first avenue for punishment because there is not criminal investigative capability in the Minnesota National Guard.