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Marine Corps to pay $200,000 to 2 young women who say recruiters sexually assaulted them

By Associated Press
Friday, June 8, 2007 - Updated: 11:47 AM EST
http://news.bostonherald.com/national/view.bg?articleid=1005476


SAN FRANCISCO - The Marine Corps agreed Thursday to revamp its recruiting practices in Northern California and pay $200,000 to two young women who claimed they were raped during a slumber party at a Ukiah recruiting office.

The women were in high school, 17 years old, and interested in joining the military in late 2004 when they claimed the two recruiters, Sgts. Joseph Dunzweiler and Brian Fukushima, raped them. Both recruiters were demoted after court-martial proceedings but were acquitted of the most serious charges.

The unusual settlement, signed Thursday by a federal judge in San Francisco, requires notices to be posted at recruiting stations throughout the region advising potential recruits how to reach a confidential advocate if they feel a recruiter has behaved inappropriately, and explaining that young women have the right to work with a female recruiter. The settlement also requires female supervision at slumber parties with female recruits.
 
An Associated Press investigation published last year found that across all military services, one out of 200 frontline recruiters _ the ones who deal directly with young people _ was disciplined for sexual misconduct in 2005. In response, the Defense Department announced last summer it would closely monitor military recruiters and their commanders and consider a policy change.

Ukiah attorney Barry Vogel, who represented the plaintiffs, said Thursday that although the court settlement applies to Northern California, "it sets a precedent nationwide."

"The Marine Corps will have the opportunity now to show their good faith behind this settlement and make this a nationwide practice. That will test their mettle," he said.

Marine Corps officials declined to comment.

One of the young women told the AP last year that they were drinking and playing cards at a recruiting station slumber party when Fukushima climbed into her sleeping bag on the floor of the station and took off her pants. Two other recruiters were having sex with two of her friends in the same room, she said. The Associated Press generally does not name victims in sexual assault cases.

"Even though I think this is a bunch of hush money and the Marines failed to acknowledge their involvement, we encourage all other women to join us and stand up and fight against this kind of behavior in the military or anywhere else," the woman, now a college student, told the AP in an interview Thursday.

She said that she met Dunzweiler in late 2004, and that he immediately began flirting with her, asking her out and sending her e-mails about how he wanted to "get her alone."

She said she believed Dunzweiler would prevent her from joining the Marines if she didn’t have sex with him. The other plaintiff said in court documents that she was very drunk, had vomited and could not resist Fukushima’s advances.

Dunzweiler, reached Thursday at a hotel where he works, was surprised to hear of the settlement and said he never agreed with the plaintiff’s version of events.

 "No, no, not at all," he said.

Vogel, and his co-counsel Michael Sorgen of San Francisco, said their clients were adamant that policy changes accompany the settlement.

"We’re very proud of our clients for the change they made," Vogel said. "They are the forerunners of this kind of change so that hopefully other women will stand up and speak up."