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Panel to help Maine National Guard improve assault response

The 10-member council is charged with making recommendations by Dec. 1.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday established a permanent advisory council to improve the Maine National Guard’s responses to sexual assault and harassment and to ensure assault survivors are connected to available resources.

The 10-member council is charged with making recommendations by Dec. 1 about how the Maine National Guard can improve its handling of assault and harassment within its ranks, with an emphasis on coordination with law enforcement authorities.

Earlier this month, the Maine National Guard proposed steps including partnering with the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault to improve its handling of sexual assault and harassment.

The focus on sexual harassment and assault follows reporting by the Bangor Daily News on a spike in substantiated sexual assaults that corresponded with a permissive attitude toward harassment, mishandling of assault allegations and retaliation against personnel who reported assaults.

Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, the state’s adjutant general, said the Maine National Guard is committed to doing better.

“Sexual assault and all forms of harassment stand in stark opposition to everything it means to wear our country’s uniform,” he said.

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