Society

Air Force Drops Discharge Charge Against Sexual Assault Victim Ciera Bridges

| by Will Hagle

Senior Air Force airman Ciera Bridges began reporting claims of sexual assault and harassment brought about by her superiors in 2009. Stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Bridges has repeatedly made complaints regarding three of her superiors that continually harassed her. Rather than investigating the issues or attempting to solve them, however, the Air Force has issued her several reprimands, eventually leading to her recommendation to be discharged from the military branch. 

The Air Force has since dropped its recommendation to discharge Bridges, but it took the airman a significant fight in order for the military branch to reach that decision. Bridges appealed her discharge, hiring an attorney employed by the Air Force and seeking the help of advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, which helped publicize her situation. 

Bridges’ attorney, Capt. Windel L. Patterson, spoke about the airman’s case in a statement, claiming that the dropping of the discharge was a small victory, but a small step overall.

“My client is grateful for the attention her plight received and for all of the positive responses and assistance. She is thankful for the resolution on the discharge and elated to have the opportunity to remain in the Air Force. But the emotional scars from years of harassment and assault, as well as nearly 10 months of stress and fearing for her Air Force career along with being subjugated as an outcast, remain. My client is resolute that action needs to be taken against those in her unit whom violated her trust,” Patterson said. 

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As Patterson’s statement insinuated, the three accused of harassment have yet to be investigated or punished. One of those accused of the crimes has retired, but two remain in service. One of the remaining airmen is a staff sergeant that allegedly grabbed Bridges “in a dark office, forcing her onto a desk and pressing his groin against her,” according to the Air Force Times.

Bridges remains stationed at Nellis Air Force Base.