I got my feelings hurt last week so being the mature composed adult that I am (not) I packed up my (rental) car and left. Some people hole up and hide when they are hurt. Not me, I run….to Croatia apparently.
Slap is Croatian for waterfall. I’ll let you figure out Split.
Breakfast on the steps of Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia
Teaching self defense featured on Voice of America
I had the great honor of being invited to teach self defense to women with different abilities. I only know about self defense for able bodied women so I had to ask this group to help me understand how basic techniques might be adapted to their needs. (I also apologized for once again asking them to explain their unique needs to one more uneducated person. They graciously forgave me.)
We had some very funny moments. Anise created the event and translated for me as I began talking about self defense. The first tool for defense is a loud voice, “No” “Stop” “Leave me alone” Albanian women, like most women, are taught to be quiet and polite. We practiced yelling over and over. The women with hearing impairment demonstrated what they might be able to do as well.
Next, I demonstrated how a woman should strike at the eyes of her attacker. Eyes are the most vulnerable part of the body. We broke into laughter because Anisa is visually impaired. As we laughed we also sorted out how a visually impaired woman would strike at the eyes or throat of an assailant.
GLOW leaders also attended so we were able to pair women with a variety of abilities and all learn together. What a great event, such an honor to be included.
I am in Florence. I spent the morning with Michelangelo and the afternoon with a cappuccino and Mary Oliver’s new poetry collection. I return to Albania Monday, refreshed and ready to watch GLOW in action and start the Balkan Lynx Ambassador program. Two agencies are working on the Peace Corps mess but this post is not about that. This is how my heart and spirit begin to heal after disappointment.
The last three weeks I have been meandering about Italy and Croatia with Mary Kay, chatting, laughing, pondering the mystery of churches, hiking endless steps in four countries, dissecting the Peace Corps mess, reminiscing about the madness of being working moms, wondering how we got through all those years and pondering the idea of life that does not require childcare.
May Kay’s Empty Nest Tour featured Small Amenities. (We overheard a conversation between a couple of twenty something Americans traveling Europe for the first time. She said, “They have such small amenities here.” Check you amenity size America.
I am assuming you can find photos of the Sistine Chapel, Dubrovnik, and Cinque Terre. Here are the things I found photo worthy.
Five women, Albanian and America, complained to Peace Corps that a male volunteer had been touching them inappropriately; groping, rubbing and “hugging” during training classes. Peace Corps investigated and confirmed the allegations. The molester, William (Bill) Martin, was allowed to resign rather than be fired or face assault charges.
Bill Martin continues to live in his Peace Corps apartment in Elbasan, Albania. He still teaches at Alexander Giovanni University, his Peace Corps assignment. He still works with his Peace Corps counterpart. (This information comes directly from Bill via his blog and his emails claiming he was wronged.)
Peace Corps volunteers can always resign rather than face prosecution.
Compilation of Peace Corps OIG (Office of Investigator General) reports (April 2010-March 2015) of Sexual Misconduct and the Resulting Agency Action
October 1, 2014-March 31, 2015
- A Volunteer restricted report was submitted to the agency’s Critical Incident Report System concerning non-consensual sexual contact of the Volunteer by another Volunteer. The agency was sufficiently concerned that the alleged assailant posed a serious or imminent threat to others, so it converted the Volunteer’s restricted report to a standard report and referred it to OIG. OIG initiated an investigation. OIG interviewed the subject, who reported not remembering what transpired due to intoxication. The victim alleged to have been sexually assaulted. Witness interviews were contradictory and did not yield specific information on the allegation. The agency provided the subject “interrupted service,” meaning the subject was separated from service but can reapply to serve in the Peace Corps at a later date. The matter was not referred for U.S. prosecution because of lack of jurisdiction.
- OIG was advised by senior management that the post had received two reports from female Peace Corps Volunteers who witnessed a male Volunteer sexually assaulting another female Volunteer in a bar in the country’s capital. During the course of the investigation, OIG confirmed that the sexual assault had occurred and determined that the male Volunteer had sexually assaulted a different female Volunteer months earlier. Further, OIG identified two female Volunteers who would have been victims of sexual assault by the male Volunteer were it not for the intervention of bystanders. All four of the incidents involved improper sexual contact. OIG also developed substantial information related to the male Volunteer’s possession, use, manufacturing, and distribution of marijuana, and of his possession, use, and distribution of Adderall (a controlled substance) without a prescription. The male Volunteer terminated his Peace Corps service in lieu of administrative separation.
April 1, 2014-September 30, 2014
- OIG received an allegation of Volunteer on Volunteer sexual assault. OIG determined that a Volunteer inappropriately touched another Volunteer without permission. In response to the investigative findings, the agency restricted the accused Volunteer’s participation in several activities for the remainder of his service.
- OIG investigated an alleged Volunteer on Volunteer sexual assault. The investigation determined that the victim and the accused engaged in sexual intercourse at the accused’s residence after a day of heavy drinking. The victim asserted that she had no memory of the evening. The accused asserted that the victim consented to having sex. Using quantities of the specific alcoholic beverages they consumed, OIG reconstructed the blood alcohol content levels of the victim and the accused to be very high and witness testimony corroborated the victim’s intoxication. At issue in this case was whether the accused attempted to gain consent by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another and whether the accused knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the position of the accused should have known, of such incapacitation. The matter was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to prosecute in lieu of administrative remedies. The agency took no action against the accused.
- OIG investigated an alleged Volunteer on Volunteer sexual assault. The victim alleged that the accused inappropriately touched her at the victim’s residence when the victim was asleep and under the influence of alcohol. The accused admitted that he engaged in sexual contact with the victim while she was intoxicated, but asserted that the victim nevertheless consented to the conduct. As noted above it is a violation of agency policy if the accused attempted to gain consent if the person knew or should have known that the victim was incapacitated. The agency declined to separate the accused from the Peace Corps, while denying his request for an extension of his service. OIG later received third-party reports that the accused had subsequently assaulted two other unidentified Volunteers. The allegations could not be corroborated because the alleged victims declined to come forward.
October 1, 2013-March 31, 2014
- OIG received an allegation that a female Volunteer was sexually assaulted by another female Volunteer in spite of the victim’s repeated verbal objections. The subject of the allegation admitted to knowing that the victim was very intoxicated at the time of the sexual contact. The matter was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to prosecute in lieu of administrative remedies. The subject resigned from the Peace Corps.
- OIG received an allegation that a female Volunteer reported being sexually assaulted by a male Volunteer. OIG interviewed the subject of the allegation who acknowledged that he engaged in sexual contact with the victim without her consent. The subject resigned from the Peace Corps.
- OIG received an allegation that a male Volunteer had sexual relations with a female Volunteer while she was intoxicated. When OIG interviewed the male Volunteer, he stated that he knew the victim was intoxicated, and conceded that he may not have had her consent. The agency is reviewing the matter for consideration of administrative action.
April 1, 2013-September 30, 2013
- OIG received allegations that a CD was fraternizing with, sexually harassing, and retaliating against host country national subordinates. The CD was recalled from his/her post during the investigation. The investigation disclosed that the CD had disobeyed explicit instructions concerning communications with one of the staff with whom he/she was allegedly fraternizing. The investigation also disclosed prior instances of insubordination by the CD. The CD resigned from the Peace Corps.
April 1, 2012-September 30, 2012
- OIG received an allegation from a post manager who claimed that both post and headquarters senior management had retaliated against the manager for the manager’s involvement in an OIG investigation. OIG determined that the manager engaged in protected activity by reporting alleged child sexual abuse by a Volunteer to headquarters, contrary to the guidance he received from his supervisor, a CD. The Investigation found that his superiors had knowledge of the protected activity and took personnel actions affecting the manager close in time to the protected activity. The OIG Investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to warrant referral to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. (Retaliation case)
October 1, 2011-March 31, 2012
- OIG initially received an allegation that a male Volunteer had inappropriately touched a female Volunteer who was sleeping. OIG’s investigation uncovered that the male Volunteer engaged in conduct that qualified as rape under Peace Corps definitions. The rape occurred outside U.S. jurisdiction and the victim did not wish to pursue charges in the host country. The male Volunteer resigned in lieu of termination.
- OIG received a report that a male Volunteer had sexually assaulted two female Volunteers. OIG’s investigation disclosed that the male Volunteer had inappropriately touched one of the female Volunteers after she had asked him to stop. The male Volunteer also sexually fondled a second female Volunteer while she was asleep. The male Volunteer resigned shortly after the allegations were reported to OIG. This case is under prosecutorial consideration by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
- OIG received an allegation that the CD continually failed to adequately report sexual assaults. OIG initiated an investigation into the CD’s compliance with sexual assault reporting requirements. It was discovered that although the CD had previously been counseled by management regarding the failure to adequately report two assaults, there were three additional incidents of sexual assaults not appropriately reported within the reporting requirements. The results of the investigation were forwarded to the agency for administrative action as appropriate. The CD was verbally counseled by agency management.
April 1, 2011-September 30, 2011
- OIG initiated a PROTECT Act investigation involving a Volunteer at a post in Eastern Europe. The investigation was conducted with the assistance of the U.S. Department of State regional security officer. The Volunteer admitted to having a long-term sexual relationship with a female host country national that started when she was 15 years old. The Volunteer resigned in lieu of administrative separation. The United States Attorney‘s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania declined to prosecute the case.
- A female Volunteer reported she had been sexually assaulted by a male Volunteer. OIG investigated the allegation, obtaining witness statements and evidence at the post. After reviewing OIG‘s investigation report, the agency separated the male Volunteer and gave him interrupted service status, which does not preclude him from future Peace Corps service. The female Volunteer was transferred to another post after a period of medical leave at her home of record.
- OIG received an allegation that a male Volunteer sexually assaulted another male Volunteer. OIG investigated the incident at the post and the subject of the investigation admitted to initiating sexual contact with the sleeping victim without his consent. The subject resigned from the Peace Corps.
- OIG received an allegation that the post‘s training manager, a personal service contractor (PSC), used a Peace Corps computer to view pornography during business hours. OIG confirmed this allegation. Additionally, the OIG investigation disclosed that the PSC previously had been the subject of a sexual assault allegation against a host country national while attending a training conference in a Central American country. The incident was not reported to OIG. OIG verified the credibility of the sexual assault allegation. The PSC resigned from the Peace Corps.
- OIG received information from the post‘s CD regarding the conduct of two Volunteers who allegedly abused alcohol routinely and had contact with prostitutes. OIG coordinated with the U.S. Embassy through the regional security officer (RSO) and provided guidance and information to post management. Both Volunteers resigned in lieu of administrative separation.
October 1, 2010-March 31, 2011
- OIG investigated an allegation that a Volunteer had sexual contact with a 14-year-old host country minor, which is a violation of the PROTECT Act. The investigation established that the Volunteer intended to marry the minor and had taken several steps to fulfill U.S. immigration requirements to obtain a fiancé visa for him/her. Both the Volunteer and the alleged victim denied the allegation that sexual contact occurred between them. Peace Corps policy prohibits Volunteers from dating anyone under 18 and the Volunteer resigned in lieu of administrative separation.
April 1, 2010-September 30, 2010
- A Peace Corps country director notified OIG about a possible sexual assault of a female Volunteer by a fellow male Volunteer. OIG investigated the incident at the post and obtained subject and witness statements that supported the victim’s allegations. Both Volunteers admitted to consuming large quantities of alcohol prior to the incident. The male Volunteer resigned from the Peace Crops in lieu of administrative separation. The female Volunteer took medical leave for counseling and care in Washington, D.C., but subsequently returned to the post to complete her service.
American Peace Corps staff are immune to prosecution for crimes committed against Albanians. Peace Corps employee policy allows American staffers to resign when faced with charges or termination for misconduct. An American staffer will be prosecuted if they assault American staff, American volunteers or Albanian Peace Corps staff. There is no consequence for crimes against Albanians.
In August, Peace Corps investigated and confirmed that Earl Wall, country director Peace Corps Albania had stalked, harassed and assaulted at least two Albanian women. Rather than faces criminal charges, he resigned and left Albania September 5. His employee file is sealed by the Privacy Act, no further information is available.
Kristin Besch, Chief of Operations Peace Corps, came to Albania this past week to meet with volunteers. She confirmed the Peace Corps employee policy allowing American staff to resign in lieu of termination or misconduct charges. Volunteers asked if an American staffer would ever be prosecuted for a crime against an Albanian, murder for example. She said they would always be allowed to resign and leave per policy. When volunteers asked what recourse an Albanian would have, they were told that the victims should report to the Office of Investigator General (OIG) in Washington. This is laughable. How would an Albanian even know how to contact Peace Corps let alone the OIG within Peace Corps? Albanian victims have no recourse against American Peace Corps who commit crimes against them, per Peace Corps employee policy.
On August 7 I filed the initial report of Earl Wall’s assaults on Albanian women. On September 3, I learned that Earl had been allowed to resign and I went to my Peace Corps community with the truth. Peace Corps fired me September 13 because I failed to properly complete paperwork for a leave request. I am staying in Albania as an independent volunteer, honoring my commitment to the Albanian people by continuing to work with girl empowerment programs.