In an effort to “establish a culture change,” a unit at Fort Bragg led by US Army Col. Chad B. McRee is creating a women mentorship program, the base has announced.
The announcement comes one week before pre-trial hearings against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair are scheduled to continue at the Fort Bragg courthouse on March 25, 26, and 27.
Last year, Sinclair's legal team retained MWW to provide media relations and communications strategy support as he waits to hear if he will face a court martial over a slew of sex-related charges.
He faces charges of forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed.
While the press release announcing the formation of the mentorship program makes no reference to Sinclair, base public information officers sent it over the same list serve it designated solely to give updates on legal proceedings against Sinclair, inferring a link between the two issues.
A PRWeek inquiry to the base about a possible connection was not immediately returned.
The women mentorship program will target newer servicewomen and connect them with more seasoned female soldiers.
“The main reporters of sexual assault and harassment are female [soldiers,] and females tend to not take care of each other as they should,” Capt. Marissa Ballesteros, commander, 21st MP Company, 503rd MP Battalion, 16th MP Brigade, said in a statement. “These two issues brought to light the need to create a program where females can get to know and trust one another, so that if these incidents were to occur, they'd be more likely to report the problem versus not to report it.”
“Who better to inform a woman soldier of the signs, the red flags, [and] the manners of behavior that can help them avoid being potentially harassed or being assaulted,” said McRee. “While I certainly can teach a woman that, I think coming from another woman it is probably more powerful.”
The program is meant to be preventative in nature, allowing junior soldiers to confide in seniors whom they trust and without fear of reproach to stop and prevent unprofessional behavior before it becomes a major issue, the release says.
The mentorship program comes two months after MWW helped to launch the website www.sinclairinnocence.com, which contains text messages between Sinclair and one of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct.
The point of the website is to show the text messages as proof that Sinclair's accuser was a willing participant in their sexual activity who turned vindictive when Sinclair grew distant.