Former Marine says McSally's story will create 'a space to come forward'

Former Marine Kate Germano praised Arizona Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses MORE (R) after the former Air Force pilot came forward about her rape during a Senate hearing last week on sexual assault in the military.

McSally, who was the first American women to fly in combat, revealed before the Senate Armed Services Committee that she was “preyed upon and raped by a superior officer” when she was serving in the Air Force.

Germano said she thinks McSally’s disclosure will help other female service members come forward as well.

“The courage that the women see her demonstrate will allow them to feel like they have a space to come forward with their allegations,” Germano told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton during an interview on “Rising.”

Germano emphasized that sexual assault is still rampant in the military, saying there’s a fear of retaliation in the military when it comes to reporting sexual assault.

“At least once a week I have a woman contact me who is currently in the service who's dealing with retaliation from issues related to claiming sexual assault,” Germano told Hill.TV.

Her comments come amid some alarming statistics.

Then-Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) told Congress in 2008 that female soldiers in combat zones are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than they are to be killed in enemy fire.

Some observers warn that little progress has been made since then.

Incidents of sexual assault and harassment at military academies are on the rise. The Pentagon reported this year that about 50 percent of women and 16 percent of men at military colleges reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment.

The Deputy Director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office told USA Today last month that unwanted sexual contact jumped last year to 747 from 507 in 2016.

—Tess Bonn