SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — A former commander of Scott Air Force Base is facing serious allegations of sexual assault.
This week, the military charged Colonel John Howard with several counts of sexual misconduct following a months-long investigation.
Court documents said Howard sexually assaulted an airman two times in April 2017 in Maine. In those cases, he is accused of forcing a woman into oral sex without her consent. He's also accused of rubbing his groin on a senior airman in the United Kingdom and speaking sexually about his genitals.
"I think it's more important that folks are held accountable," Phyllis Miller, who works at the YWCA said.
Miller has worked with sexual assault victims at the organization for 5 years, including service members.
"We help survivors heal," Miller said.
She said a case like this, involving a military commander, is especially tough.
"I think it's difficult to come forward when that perpetrator has been someone in authority because there are certain risks associated with that," Miller said. "They're having flashbacks maybe they're not sleeping, maybe they're not eating. Anxiety. Relationships problems. A whole host of things."
The U.S. Department of Defense said they have seen sexual abuse on the rise in recent years. U.S. officials said sexual assault reports across the military jumped nearly 10 percent in 2017. The Navy and Air Force saw the highest increase at nine percent.
Howard was fired from his command of the 375th Air Mobility Wing in December 2017. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is handling the case.