Denver The number of female Air Force Academy cadets who say they were sexually assaulted and then reprimanded for reporting it has increased to 12, Sen. Wayne Allard said Friday.
News reports last week said that at least five female cadets claimed they got in trouble for reporting they had been sexually assaulted. Allard said his office had since heard of seven more cases.
The academy's superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Dallager, issued a brief statement Friday saying there is zero tolerance for sexual assault at the school and in the Air Force.
"Any and all perpetrators will be brought to justice and disciplined appropriately," Dallager said. His brief statement did not address Allard's claims.
An Air Force team is at the Colorado Springs-based academy looking into the reports after the Colorado Republican and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked the Pentagon to investigate.
Allard said he did not know the outcome of the more recently reported cases, but he said he believed the women's stories.
"If the man is the one who committed the rape, he is the one who should be kicked out and not the victim," the senator said.
In the five earlier cases, one woman said she was raped after a night of drinking and a strip poker game. Another said she left the academy after commanders responded to her rape allegation by charging her with violating rules against drinking, fraternization with upperclassmen and having sex in dormitories, according to the news reports.
Eight cadets have been dismissed for sexual assaults on other cadets, and one case is pending, according to Air Force.
On Thursday, Gilbert told The Associated Press: "I can categorically deny that I have ever blamed sexual assault on a victim."