The U.S. Military Academy at West Point says it severely punished its men's rugby team for participating in a lewd email chain that was derogatory to women. A former cadet says that's misleading PR fluff. We got our hands on the emails about "rando skanks" and "black strap-ons" that reportedly prompted the nation's top military academy to intervene.

15 senior West Point cadets were charged last month with violating multiple disciplinary codes for forwarding emails detailing the sexual "highs and lows" of the elite academy's rugby team. They graduated and became U.S. soldiers after 8 days of hastily condensed discipline. The emails and the ensuing punishment — or lack thereof — come during a time of increased scrutiny on our country's armed forces. The Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings last week on rampant sexual assault in the military; based on one Pentagon report that found around 26,000 cases of abuse in the past year and another that shows a 35 percent rise in cases of “unwanted sexual contact” in the last two years, the investigation was a long time coming.

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Judging by West Point's track record, things don't look so great for the next generation of military higher-ups, either. There were 80 reports of sexual assault at West Point and the country's two other military academies during the 2011-2012 academic year, three times the amount there were in 2009. Last year, a woman sued West Point for "systematically and repeatedly" ignoring "rampant sexual harassment," claiming that the institution had a "history of failing to prosecute and punish those students found to have sexually assaulted and raped their fellow students." Last month, news broke that a West Point sergeant was charged with secretly filming at least a dozen female cadets, including in the shower.

The West Point rugby team's infraction was minor by comparison: in April, all 60 members on the club-level team were implicated after a cadet (not on the team) reported one of the raunchy "Highs and Lows" emails the players regularly forwarded around via the Academy's email system. Here are some excerpts, with names blocked out and some of the most egregious phrases in bold, from the November 29th, 2012 email that a source claims sparked the investigation:

[cadet] put the team on his back over thanksgiving. He and [cadet] killed a 24 pack in 2 hours before the umass game. Then he got his dick touched by some rando skank from the hotel lobby he met 15 minutes earlier. Although failing to stick it in is grounds for Bubble territory [ed: "Bubble territory" is on the bubble of being a "low" for the week, a bad thing, obviously] he rallied ... The artist formerly known as Virgin got nudie snapchats from the girl the next day. Plus he acted like he was asleep while [cadet] got a blowie from his girl in their room. HE HEARD EVERYTHING (although [cadet] eventually admitted he knew [cadet] was awake at the time, too)

Apparently everyone's favorite socially retarded center [cadet] headbutted a dude over thanksgiving and broke the fags nose after he tried to stop [cadet] from hitting on a girl. Word.

dancing in a cage after having a butt plug in for 9 hours is the tight thing to do. and he made out with trou. [derogatory term for a female cadet] Sloppy trou. Or it might have been a girl [cadet] fucked but im not sure. Actually it might have been [cadet] girl'ss roommate, who used a vibrator in [cadet]'s ass and proceeded to put that same vibrator in wardo's mouth. Word on the street. just check the lipstick stains.

The Yuks [re: sophomores on team]. You guys fucking suck. "But why!?" you question. It's cause you are a bunch of individualized bitches. None of you rage together or have tight stories. It's past time to come together as a class and get a fucking identity instead of letting some of your tight individuals (like [cadet])do all the heavy lifting. Just kidding. [cadet] sucks.although you do have some solid individuals. The plebes [re: freshmen on the team] have been here for less than a semester and are already a tighter group as a class than you are. Being on this team means being a Brother. Start acting like it.

[Cadet]. Apparently this fuck wrote his own highs. Like what the fuck. The only thing I would be more concerned about is [cadet] not branching Korea or some other fucking ching chang place.

[name of female cadet and Cadet A's girlfriend]- Apparently [Cadet]'s girl thinks she can call out [cadet teammates referenced] on fucking twitter. The only thing she can call out is her own name as she fucks [Cadet A] in the ass with an 8" black strapon. [Cadet A], get your girl on a leash. Or take the one off she has on you and be done with it. Either way we don't follow her so fukc her.

not only is the fuck a product of his mothers tit, he was homeschooled by her and breastfed until sophomore year of high school. She taught him how to masturbate correctly and demonstrated on a sausage. She also showed him how to deep throat. Because hes homeschooled...This asshole rolled into the trainers' ... office wearing a chain around his neck. Dog tags? No only fags wear those.

What we have here is a stereotypical nasty dude email chain: welcome to college. Except this isn't just any college; it's West Point. A month-long internal investigation found that the team members had violated the "Cadet Disciplinary Code for Unsatisfactory Behavior, Error in Judgment, Failure to Perform a Duty, and a violation of the General Article for actions which tend to reflect discredit on the Corps of Cadets and the United States Army," according to a statement. The team was temporarily disbanded and required to complete an "intense" respect rehabilitation program, "involving self-assessments, reflective journals, and role-model interviews, supervised by a mentor."

The statement said the maximum allowable punishment under the Cadet Disciplinary Code was also administered; Lieutenant Colonel Webster Wright told The Sunday Times that meant senior players had been punished with demotion, loss of leave and 120 hours of marching in dress uniform while carrying rifles. According to the statement, the 15 senior Cadets completed their prescribed punishment before graduating and becoming commissioned officers of the U.S. Army.

Media outlets (including Jezebel) were impressed with West Point's response; it seemed like the type of zero-tolerance attitude that would ideally trickle up to, say, John McCain, who told the Senate this week that women should avoid joining the military until the sexual misconduct crisis is solved.

But Charles Clymer, a 26-year-old medically discharged West Point cadet (he would've graduated with the Class of 2013) and veteran who now attends Georgetown University and blogs about women's and gay rights, was unimpressed. Moreover: he was distressed. Clymer loves West Point, he said in a phone interview, but he thought the academy's response was flimsy and deceptive given what he had heard from his former peers about the quality and quantity of the team's emails — and the fact that no one on the team ever reported the thread.

"These cadets who graduated are now officers who will have to face tougher ethical questions than whether to turn someone in who is participating in blatant sexual harassment on a government email thread," said Clymer, who is a sexual assault survivor. "How can you trust someone to oversee a platoon of young men and women if you can't trust them to do that?"

The email doesn't imply that these bros are rapists, of course, and the internal investigation didn't find any evidence of sexual assault. Trash talk, however extreme, shouldn't be confused with rape; the emails don't imply that these kids are going to commit any acts of wrongdoing.

But the emails do illustrate an insidious and damaging culture amongst future military leaders, and these young men will be entering the ranks while the military is dealing with a massive sexual assault problem, one that is exacerbated by powerful leaders who don't take sexism seriously.

Clymer said West Point lied by claiming in a statement and to reporters that the "maximum allowable punishment under the Cadet Disciplinary Code was administered" when, in reality, those 120 hours of marching were cut to 60 so the cadets could graduate on time — only eight days after the disciplinary board meeting announced the details of their punishment. "How could they have undergone such 'intense' rehabilitation in eight days?" he asked.

They didn't. Both Officer Lieutenant Wright and West Point spokesperson Francis DeMaro confirmed that the seniors' punishment was suspended due to "the truncated timeline of graduation approaching" and good behavior.

"The Commandant of Corps of Cadets deemed this punishment appropriate," Wright said.

Clymer also said it was false to claim that no "inappropriate" photos of female cadets had been found within the emails, since there were often derogatory photos of women included in the "Highs and Lows" emails. "Inappropriate" just meant "nude" photos, Wright said.

Wright declined to confirm or deny whether the excerpts forwarded to Jezebel were from the email that prompted the investigation, citing legal reasons. “The core of this issue is that a small group of cadets have behaved in a manner that is completely unacceptable and in direct odds with the professionalism and respect we demand of future leaders of the Army,” he wrote in an email. “The corrective training will continue until the chain of command is satisfied with the outcome. Only at that point will they consider re-instating the team.”

Did the offending cadets really learn a lesson about the proper decorum befitting a West Point graduate (and human being)? Or did they learn that it's no big deal to make jokes about fags and sticking it in rando skanks?

"Americans pay taxes for cadets to go through rigorous training and serve the country," Clymer said. "When this [behavior] goes unchecked, Abu Ghraib happens. This is why the military covers up sexual assault."

Update: the Military is investigating at least two West Point graduates in relation to more serious charges tied to the rugby team scandal.