Pan Phyu is the sister of CPL Thae Ohu. CPL Ohu suffered from a sexual assault, which caused her to develop post traumatic stress, depression, and a number of other mental health issues.
Her sexual assault was not prosecuted by the military, and her mental health was not getting the treatment that she needed. Ultimately, this mental health situation caused her to get arrested for another assault. Despite her alleged victim stating that he doesn't want to press charges, she still remains behind bars, which is not helping her mental state.
Desperate pleas to the Marine Corps, Secretary of Defense, and Congress for help seemed to be falling on deaf ears, which is why I wanted to have Pan on to talk about her sister's situation to help raise awareness about the situation, and maybe get CPL Ohu the help she needs.
This episode deals with sexual assault, and the views expressed in it are personal opinions and not intended to reflect the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps, or the Navy.
Links & Resources
- Justice for Thae Ohu on Instagram
- Justice for Thae Ohu on Facebook
- Marine Times writeup on CPL Ohu's case
- Marines United scandal
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let's get on with the show. Hey everybody, today my guest is Pan Phyu and Pan is a sister of Tey Phyu. Before we get into this interview and talk about the situation that we're going to talk about here in this interview, I wanted to just let listeners know that the things that we'll be talking about will be things like sexual assault and mental health traumas that come along with that, which is at the heart of the situation that we're going to be talking about here.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:01:10 I just wanted to make sure everyone had that information upfront. So that way, if there are any triggers, you can handle that appropriately on your end. So, why don't we jump into this? Welcome to the show Pan; could you tell us a little bit about your sister's case and some of the history, the background surrounding it, for anyone who might not be familiar with it?
Pan Phyu: 00:01:33 Yes, yes, of course. So my sister, Tey Phuy she sits at the Navy consolidated brig and her crime is basically she had a mental breakdown and the law enforcement that arrested her that night did not come to the same consensus. The United States Marine Corps is allegedly charging her with attempted murder. And so my sister, as far as backstory, she's gone through a lot of serious trauma. The Marine Corps is aware of it. And even in this case, they do acknowledge it, but they do not seem to understand the ramifications of her trauma and how long it persisted over the years and the things that she has done to help herself. In my opinion, it led to her breakdown. And so, she lost rank. She had heavy hits with her reputation and the system that we're talking about, the sexual assault programs, implemented in the DOD, the Navy, the Marine Corps;
Pan Phyu: 00:02:46 It seems as if they have failed to do their job. And what I'm talking about more specifically for Tay is that her duty form 2910, which is used to as a victim preference statement, it was never in the defense sexual assault incident database. And so that's a huge violation. And not only that, my sister currently is facing unjust persecution. Her defense team is not able to pursue access channels or avenues to present their defense. And so, that's not even the worst of it. The worst is that my sister has been subjected to many human rights violations, and there has been advocacy for her mental health and for access for her to acquire adequate mental health. And yet it's not, it's falling on deaf ears and I really need elected officials to be able to advocate for her, at the bare minimum, her service members rights.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:56 Right. So, so going back to the original situation that kind of prompted all of this, the sexual assault that took place, that kind of led her down this road of deteriorating, mental health and her mental state was affected.. And I think, understandably so, from all of this, and has anything happened with that particular case? Not the current case where she's being held for, but, has any punishments or anything like that been taking place with that case, with the accused person or anything like that? Could you talk a little bit about that?
Pan Phyu: 00:04:53 So the accused rapist, he was not charged and CIS basically failed to do their job, and they prolong this FBI investigation. Not only that but the Marine Corps, they're not trying to be transparent about his participation with the prosecution team and the fact that that same prosecution team is leading the prosecution against my sister. And so there's a lot of gray areas. Hence, I believe that's why the gag order was being sought by the Marine Corps is that they're not willing to be transparent about his involvement in the command and trying to cover up their misactions there, the things that they did as leaders to help my sister, they could've helped her, they could have, when this was all brought to light to them, they could have been like, Hey, let's get her the help that she needs, but instead they chose to criminalize her behavior.
Pan Phyu: 00:05:54 And in a sense like this, my opinion, I feel like they threw a red herring into the conversation to get people to have this narrative of my sister being this monster. But she's not, it goes so much more beyond what just happened in April that led to her arrest, there's so much more at play. And right now the accused rapist, he works at the Pentagon in the legal sector. And so we're just asking for a public hearing. We want transparency by the command's involvement and the accused rapist.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:34 I think that's understandable. I don't know the details of the other side, like what is their rationale and their reasoning for a gag order and not being transparent, I don't know any of those details. I'm sure they've said something or whatever to that effect. That's not really the biggest issue. I think that the biggest issue to me anyways, is the fact that something happened, as far as her sexual assault and then the follow-up after that, maybe there wasn't evidence and I don't know the case, obviously I'm not an investigator, or I don't have any prior knowledge to do this, but maybe there wasn't the evidence to bring the case and maybe they needed to build up a case.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:37 And maybe that's why it didn't go any further in terms of a prosecution. However, there is no justification for not providing the mental health treatment and care that she obviously needed, and that's what ultimately led her down this road to get arrested for what took place. Correct me if I'm wrong with this, but because of all of this, the post traumatic stress from the situation, the depression, and other mental health issues, she did try to apply for a medical retirement from the Marine Corps. What happened with that?
Pan Phyu: 00:08:28 So she did get approved, I believe they were going to medically retire her. I'm not sure the percentage or anything like that. They seriously noted and advocated for my sister that she had critical, mental health diagnoses and behaviors, and that she needed to be medically retired. And so the command, the only thing I can remember, what my sister has told me is that her immediate supervisors and their lack of professionalism made the statement that she did not need to be compensated for her sexual assault. And this is my personal opinion, I think that not only does my sister face unprofessionalism and poor leadership, but this is something that is across the DOD, sexual assault and harassment is not something that military leaders take seriously. They feel as if it's an occupational hazard, but it's not enough to convict somebody of a crime. It's not a crime to them.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:09:46 So the situation ended up deteriorating for her, where her mental state got so bad that she did wind up assaulting someone which led her into her current situation. What happened with that? What was the background of that situation and how did that case unfold?
Pan Phyu: 00:10:19 Well, from what I know, the civilian authorities had a roster with the misdemeanor of assault with a deadly weapon, but the consensus from the prosecution team on the military, the Marine Corps side is a completely different narrative. And really, we just want the honest truth to come from whatever those series of events had happened. And so, at one point she was at a sexual assault trauma unit, intensive unit, and the command knew she was in there. And instead of advocating for her medical retirement, they decided that they were going to threaten her by throwing her in the brig, which is absolutely wrong because she was arrested April 5th for this incident, but it took them all the way from there until June 19th to place her in the brig, knowing that it was not appropriate.
Pan Phyu: 00:11:18 They didn't follow the military instructions for that brig. They basically left my sister there with nothing to be able to help herself. Knowing that they were going to violate military instructions for that brig and place her in solitary confinement, which we all know is not what the civilian authorities had charged her with. For God's sake we treat survivors of sexual assault in federal prisons with much more care than what they have shown my sister; my sister literally has been treated lower than how we would treat dogs and it's just not okay. There's a huge violation. And yet, instead of the Marine Corps trying to help my sister, they would rather discourage her and use bullying tactics. And it's very wrong. It's something that leadership knows better and they should do better and they're not willing to do better.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:26 Right. So eventually, your family has reached out to elected officials, senators and Congress, I believe as well. What has the response been from them? Who did you reach out to and what did they come back with?
Pan Phyu: 00:12:49 Well, I can tell you guys that Congresswoman, Elaine Laurie is signed on with my sister to help her with her concerns. Yet she only visited her at the brig one time, which was last year. I think I'm not sure of the month, but regardless after the fact, my sister has been subjected to so many service members’ rights violations and human rights violations. And I've honestly heard crickets from every single person that I have reached out to. And what I mean by that is that they'll send their inquiries to the United States Marine Corps. And they're waiting for a response waiting for a response, but this is going on seven months now. And not only that, the Marine Corps, instead of responding back to these congressional offices, and talking to the representatives, they would try to get a motion for a gag order. And there's a complete breakdown in power authority right now that the military is basically saying, I don't have to listen to Congress. I don't have to do anything that they asked me to do. I am on my own agenda, and I don't care what I do. That's what it seems like to me. And so a lot people can be so much louder with their inaction and it speaks volumes. Then I have an actual statement to say. Right,
Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:17 Right. And it seems like the Marine Corps should be responding to some of these inquiries. I don't know the reasons like what's going on in the background on their end, what it is that they're waiting on or what it is that's causing them to do all this, or rather not do all of this, not respond to these inquiries. I don't know what the reason is for that. That's something that they should come out and have some explanation for;I would imagine to explain what the situation is and why this is happening. It doesn't seem like that's what's happening, which is unfortunate.
Pan Phyu: 00:15:12 Well, another thing I wanted to just bring up and I don't mean to like go back into the past or anything, but the whole Marines United scandal happened not that long ago. And for them to still be prolonging the investigation, they have yet to show immediate action taken by leadership. And that's something that was, I believe in 2017. So if they're willing to take four years on something so heinous as the Marines United scandal, I just feel like they will take forever with my sister too. And we don't have forever when service members are at risk of mental health needs or concerns, suicide, this is why we have 22 a day because service members that don't have adequate access to justice, to legal assistance, to mental health services. And in my sister's case, she doesn't even have the services as a survivor of sexual assault. So there are entities falling. And right now the people that are in charge are Congress. And ultimately the president and so they need to make immediate action. If the Marine Corps isn't willing to do it, then they need to step in and take control of the situation.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:36 And as one of the things that you brought up there is her rights and things like that were being violated. And one of the things that I think a lot of people on the civilian side, especially don't understand about the military and the rights that service members have is that as a service member, your rights are different from a civilian's rights. What that does not mean is, it doesn't mean that if you're a victim of a crime that your accuser can just walk free or things get swept under the rug. That's not how that works. There are other things that yes, as a service member, you expect that you don't have the freedom to just go wherever you want and do whatever you want and wear your hair, however you want, or do whatever you want.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:29 Like, there are certain things that you don't have that luxury that a regular civilian would, but this type of thing is something that I think is a thing that definitely should not be called into question. I think you should, if you are a victim of an assault of any type, your case should be heard and you should be able to get mental health treatment, if that is what's required in your particular situation. So, I think your sister's case, from what I know of it anyways, is a terrible situation that she's in. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. Ultimately the reason why I wanted to have you on the show is to bring light to the case and the situation that she's in, in particular, so that other people who maybe didn't necessarily know about her and her case, could learn more about it, find out what's going on, maybe write to their congressional leaders and their district to open up an inquiry and advocate on behalf of your sister. The more pressure, the better, anything else about your sister's case that people might be interested in hearing about?
Pan Phyu: 00:19:02 The only thing I really want to bring to light is that there's a new secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin. And he said in his memo where he wanted to take on the sexual assault concerns in the military that we simply must admit the hard truth. We must do more, all of us. And so, I agree with him and I seriously want to see that into action into fruition, like soon, because I know that my sister is not the only one that has gone through something like this, there are so many people that are going through these same issues or facing similar journeys, and they need people, good leadership to aggressively advocate for them and ensuring that legal, pursuing or sexual assault or mental health, all of that is accessible to service members.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:12 Right. And I think that that is a good direction to go to make sure that that is available. I mean, it should've been done quite frankly a long time ago, for whatever reason it hasn't, and that is what it is. We can't change the past. We can try to work to change the future. And you've written a letter, you shared that letter with me, that you've written to the defense secretary about the particular case and what your expectations or your hopes for what he actually will do with what he said that he'll do about this type of stuff. Hopefully it hits his desk and it's something that he actually reads and takes to heart. And will do something about, if not, hopefully the congressional inquiries will keep up and that will drive home some of the importance of this to the people who are the decision makers and the policy makers and things like that. So hopefully that all of this will help in that.
Pan Phyu: 00:21:33 I do want to add one more thing if that's okay. So, these crimes that are being committed in the military, and as I said before, it doesn't just happen, it happens on a large scale. So these are very violent,very intensive crimes that the military is imposing on service members. And I feel as if that should be more of a focus on that instead of, Oh, it's the military, because we have leadership that will try to govern themselves, and we see that they're not holding themselves accountable. So really when we talk about the military, it's a public institution and it is being sold to the public, the public that I liked, these officials that send their kids off to the military, they need to be involved. And the fact is that the few of us that are survivors from military sexual trauma, there's not a lot of us; yes, it's a lot, but it's realistically less than 1% of the nation. So when we talk about the public institution, as far as the military, we need the public to be outraged by this and shell in support and stand in solidarity with people that are coming out and sharing their stories.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:50 Right. And I think it's one of those things where, what I'm trying to do here is shed some light on this particular case, but with the knowledge that, for the listeners, that this is not the only case in the Marine Corps or in the military, as in general, where someone has been a victim of something like this. And it maybe got swept under the rug, or didn't go any further and, for one reason or another, it just ended where it did. And so, you're right. It is an issue where people don't really on the civilian side really know about this. And so, if they don't know about it, how are they going to expect their Congressperson to do something about that, or their senators or whatever to do something about that?
Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:48 How will they do that? So my hope for this episode is that people will realize that there are some issues that need to be looked at and hopefully they can make some waves and get Congress in gear and hold the military accountable for this type of stuff and figure out a way to put an end to this. But, at the end of the day, today, my ultimate goal is to help your sister, either get those charges reduced or dropped, or at a very least minimum, get the mental health treatment that she needs. So, if anyone who is listening to this can help out in any way, shape or form with those goals, that would be the best outcome.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:51 I think, as far as the objective of this episode to get people moving and talking about this type of thing, that there's obviously other issues, we can handle those other issues in the future, but for right now, there's definitely someone who is in need and needs some help sooner rather than later; it's been several months now that she's been locked away and that's too long for something like this.
Pan Phyu: 00:25:24 I do have plan of action petitions, her GoFundMe, more articles that are surrounding her case. And the link is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter justice for Teo.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:41 Okay. Yeah. I will link to all of the social media profiles. I was gonna get to that and ask you about those so people can follow up and find out more developments as time goes on, about her and her case and what is going on with that, and ways that they can help. I will link all of that in the show notes, so people can find that relatively easily and, so that I think will cover it all. So, it has been a pleasure speaking with you today. I really do hope for the best for your sister, your family, and hopefully this gets resolved sooner rather than later and works out well for her.
Pan Phyu: 00:26:32 Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:39 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.