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Air Force Academy Changes Simulated Rape Training After Complaints

April 8, 1995 GMT

DENVER (AP) _ The Air Force Academy is changing a training program that forces cadets to act out rapes to teach them how to cope with sexual assault in wartime prison camp.

The academy’s decision was announced Friday, the same day that ABC’s ``20-20″ aired interviews with two cadets who said the training went too far.

A 21-year-old woman said she was grabbed by a male cadet, forced onto a table in a small room and had some of her clothing removed by another male cadet, who stood between her legs to simulate rape.

``I was kicking and screaming and cursing and telling them to get off of me and screaming for help,″ said the cadet, who requested anonymity.

The rape scenario ended when the woman kicked one of the men in the groin.

The academy, located in Colorado Springs, began the training program in 1993 after U.S. personnel captured by Iraqis in the Gulf War were sexually assaulted and harassed.

``It’s very demanding and stressful, we don’t deny that,″ said academy spokesman Col. Joseph W. Purka. ``It has to be realistic and stressful so that people will develop confidence to deal with survival and resistance in the future.″

Academy officials said they would begin using videotapes in classrooms rather than role play. The changes will begin this summer, when about 1,000 cadets are expected to participate, Purka said.

About 500 of the Air Force Academy’s 1,400 students are women.

ABC producers said they learned 24 people had complained about the training. Purka said he had not seen the report and could not comment on allegations made by the two cadets.

Christian Polintan, 19, a male cadet who has since left the academy, told ABC he was dressed in women’s clothing and paraded around camp. He said a trainer removed his skirt and instructed another cadet to mount him.

``He told me to bend over the table. I was just in shock of what they were doing. I could not believe it was happening to me,″ Polintan said. When it was over, ``A lot of things were going through my mind. I wanted to kill myself.″

Polintan’s allegations were investigated by an officer who concluded ``that the treatment of this cadet was not in excess of Department of Defense guidelines for this type of training,″ Purka said.

The sexual assault training is part of a larger program, ``Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape,″ or SERE, that has been used since the 1960s to prepare cadets for coercive tactics used in warfare.