Michelle Ten Eyck, a civilian employee at Fort Bliss, Texas, underwent months of physical and psychological trauma at the hands of an Army coworker before she successfully put it to an end. With her attacker, Maj. Geoffrey Alleyne, a chaplain and 24-year veteran, serving a six-month jail sentence, Ten Eyck spoke out last week about how difficult she found it to pursue action within the military's chain of command.
In an interview with KFOX following Alleyne's court-martial, Ten Eyck said her allegations had first been ignored by coworkers. Later, some reacted with "hatred," she said.
"If I had to do this over again, I would live in silent misery and I would never, I would never report again," Ten Eyck said, speaking about the "retaliation."
The only superior who would listen told her that she'd likely need to film the unwanted confrontations in order to bring charges against Alleyne. She set up a camera and waited for the next attack.
"The video showed him touching me, touching my breasts, licking my face," Ten Eyck told KFOX. "They made an issue of that yesterday that it was just kissing no, he licked my face. And he blocked me in my office, I had nowhere to go."
While Military.com reports that Alleyne's punishment is rare for a person in such a position -- especially considering that chaplains are often the officials service members are encouraged to seek out for counsel -- his sentencing was much lighter than it could have been. The initial charge of sexual assault could have led to a 20-year jail term, but Alleyne's decision to plead guilty to charges of assault, battery, making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer, carried only a fraction of that.
Ten Eyck told KFOX that her experience was evidence that lawmakers currently weighing the issue of sexual assault need to "take all of this out of the military's hands."
Leaders from across the armed services have repeatedly spoken out on military sexual assault this year. President Barack Obama has called the acts a "betrayal" and ordered top brass to address the behavior. Congressional lawmakers have also picked up the issue, putting forth legislative proposals designed to hold the military more accountable for such crimes. The question of whether measures should take cases outside the chain of command -- as Ten Eyck suggeted -- has been the primary point of contention.