Santa Cruz shooting becomes part of military sex assault debate

March 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Pentagon has been under fire for how it deals with sexual assaults and at a Senate hearing in Washington D.C. on Wednesday the murder of two Santa Cruz police officers became part of the debate. Jeremy Goulet, the man who killed them, had two rape cases dropped while he was in the Army.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and a top police official in Santa Cruz are all adding their voices to the growing concern about how the military handles its accused sex offenders, including Goulet.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.

Clark is joining the chorus asking for more accountability in the way the military punishes its sex offenders.

"There is a strong possibility that had there been follow through, instead of brushing this aside, that this individual would have been in custody and would not have had the ability to carry out their crimes," said Clark.

Last month, Santa Cruz detectives Elizabeth Butler and Loran "Butch" Baker were gunned down by Goulet, an Army veteran with a history of sex offense accusations.

After the tragedy, it came to light that Goulet was twice accused of rape while serving in the Army, but in neither case was he put on trial. Instead, he served a short time in a military jail, before being granted a less than honorable discharge.

"Too many military sex offenders go unpunished," said Boxer.

Now, Boxer, Speier and others are calling for the military to impose stricter penalties on its own, who are accused of sexual assault.

"What is it going to take? It's a vicious, violent crime. And those capable of that vicious crime are capable of other crimes. Yes, murder," said Boxer.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is also calling now for greater transparency from the military and specifically for Goulet's court martial records.

But some say it wasn't just the military that went light on Goulet. In 2007, a Portland jury convicted him of two misdemeanors, but dismissed four felonies he was charged with for peeping at a woman, and then firing a gun at the victim's boyfriend.

"It's not just the military courts that might've looked the other way on this, there's a whole lot of civilian courts and unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all too often in the justice system," said Clark.

The memorial still stands in front of the Santa Cruz Police Department. It's been a couple of weeks since the tragedies, but we still saw a steady stream of people coming, wanting to pay their respects or drop off some fresh flowers.


Load Comments