RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court in Virginia has refused to revive a lawsuit against two former defense secretaries by 28 military members and veterans who said they were victims of sexual assault.
The unanimous decision Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower court’s December 2011 ruling dismissing the case. The lawsuit alleged that former defense secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates fostered a culture that allowed rapists to thrive and punished victims for filing complaints against their attackers.
The appeals court acknowledged the severity of the allegations. However, the panel agreed with U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady that the judiciary should not intervene in matters involving military discipline.
Rumsfeld was President George W. Bush’s first defense secretary. Gates served under Bush and President Barack Obama.