Three openly gay Air Force Academy cadets on Friday publicly defended the school against criticism that an analyst with its Center of Character and Leadership Developments was a longtime advocate of "curing" gays of their homosexuality.
Mike Rosebush, who the Academy says helped design and implement its personalized coaching program, was initially hired in 2009, the same year he published "Sanctification Coaching: Sexual Purity and Peace for Christian Men with Same-Sex Attractions."
During a press conference set up by the school on Friday, the cadets -- who went only by first names -- told reporters they had never heard of Rosebush.
"Frankly, I didn't even know he existed until his name turned up in the press," Cadet ‘William' said.
"My peers asked me if he was even real," Cadet ‘Stephanie' said. "They thought he was a made up person, made up credential and everything."
The website Americablog first reported Rosebush's role at the school on Nov. 19. Rosebush said through the school that he is declining interviews.
In a statement released early on Friday, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Air Force Academy Superintendent, made it clear that none of Rosebush's duties put him in contact with students, and that he analyzes data and evaluates the effectiveness of school's Character and Leadership 101 course, "Foundations of Honorable Living - MOSAIC Personalized Coaching Experience."
"We realize the hiring of Dr. Mike Rosebush is a raw and emotional issue to many people on both sides of the issue surrounding reports in the media about his background and alleged beliefs," Johnson said in the statement.
In response to the concerns, she said the school is reviewing its hiring procedures to ensure they're "legally sound, equitable, and unbiased."
She also said there have been no complaints brought against Rosebush since he arrived on the campus, but that officials are also going back through the records to see if they might have missed anything.
The cadets interviewed on Friday said gay and lesbian cadets who met recently over the controversy primarily were concerned that the publicity would harm academy recruiting. The three said cadets did not want the media coverage to define the school, and also said there should be additional training at the academy so that cadets, faculty and permanent party would be more fully aware of the gay community.
The three also defended school leadership, saying administrators and faculty have been very supportive of the gay community.
Though all agreed there have been some anti-gay incidents among cadets, they claimed the chain-of-command has responded appropriately.
Cadet ‘Carol' rejected a quote reported elsewhere by an unidentified cadet, who claimed that if she came out of the closet her Air Force career would be over.
"That is completely false," Cadet ‘Carol' said. "I hold a very high job at the Wing … Being ‘out' in the military is not detrimental at all to your career."
The academy has said little about Rosebush's background. A spokesman for the school said Rosebush declined to have his resume released to reporters when asked.
The business-to-business website ZoomInfo.com carries a biography of Rosebush indicating he spent 20 years in the Air Force -- first as a fighter pilot then at the Air Force Academy. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
The bio page says Rosebush in 1984 published the "Leadership Development Manual," which became "the supervisory training manual for virtually every officer trained throughout the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard."
According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has waged an ongoing battle with the academy for years over controversial incidents and programs indicating a strong evangelical Christian bias at the school, Rosebush spent about 20 years advocating that homosexuality is something that can be cured.
The ZoomInfo site says Rosebush was president of "Coaching Confidant," a counseling ministry for Christian men "who struggle with unwanted same-gender attractions," served as director of the Professional Counselors Network for Exodus International, which also claimed to cure homosexuality through counseling, and was a member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality.