Teaching Case - A Sharper Look at Zero Tolerance: Reports of Sexual Assault Rock the United States Air Force Academy

A Sharper Look at Zero Tolerance: Reports of Sexual Assault Rock the United States Air Force Academy


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  • Product Description

    This case traces the sexual assault scandal that rocked the United States Air Force Academy in 2003. Over a period of several months, dozens of current and former female students came forward to the media and government representatives about being sexually assaulted by their male peers on campus. Several victims also implicated the Academy’s leadership for not doing enough to address the problem.

    When the scandal broke, Lieutenant General John Dallager was the Academy Superintendent (equal to President of a civilian university). The Academy’s decade-old sexual assault program guaranteed confidentiality for victims of sexual assault. The program also offered a slew of prevention and support services. Many Academy staff regarded the sexual assault program as the “gold standard.” But the rising number of allegations shined a harsh light on the Academy’s culture and immediately cast doubts on Dallager’s leadership. Why had he and other senior officials at the Academy failed to notice the scale of the problem? Or had they willfully ignored it?

    Learning Objective:
    Students examine the factors that led up to the scandal and the failure of the leadership to recognize the culture of sexual assault and address the issue in time. Students of leadership learn about how effective leaders have to ask the right questions and question assumptions.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: June 30, 2017
    HKS Case Number: 2098.0
    Case Author: Anjani Datla
    Faculty Lead: Dana Born
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 13
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research
    _year: 2016-2017
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: North America
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