Nearly 21 months have passed since Marianne Bustin was terminated from her job of helping to prevent sexual assault at the Pennsylvania Air National Guard base in Horsham.

Bustin said commanders rejected her attempts to root out a fighter-pilot culture steeped in male chauvinism, sexual harassment, and discrimination, then removed her from the federally mandated position and revoked her victim-assistance credentials, leaving her unable to work in the field — even in the private sector.

Following a July 2020 Inquirer report about claims of sexual misconduct and hostile working conditions for women on the base — including interviews with seven current and former employees who backed Bustin’s claims — the National Guard launched its own investigation.

Now, Bustin, the base’s former sexual assault response coordinator, says she has been vindicated, at least partially.

An administrative judge with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board ruled last month that the National Guard had violated Bustin’s right to due process.

The judge said that it was wrong for the same brigadier general to have upheld the revocation of Bustin’s credentials, then to have made the final decision on her termination — which was based on her loss of credentials.

“They have to reinstate her,” said Bustin’s attorney, Debra D’Agostino. “She’s going to get her job back and have a clean record.”

» READ MORE: Rape jokes, vindictive culture in ‘old boys club’ at Horsham’s Air National Guard Station

The judge has not yet ruled on Bustin’s retaliation claim. A hearing on that is scheduled for next month.

Bustin, 58, who grew up in Kensington and now lives in Jenkintown, said she is hopeful that she will be able to get her credentials restored and resume working as a sexual assault response coordinator — ideally some place where she is “valued.”

“It’s hanging over my head,” Bustin said of the two-year ordeal.

Before arriving in Horsham in 2016, Bustin had been commended for her work handling sexual assault cases for the U.S. Coast Guard in Cape May. She also had served in the Navy for more than 20 years.

“The question will be how does one resurrect my reputation across the SAPR community?” she asked, referring to sexual assault prevention and response.

Meanwhile, the National Guard’s investigation into sexual harassment and other problems on the Horsham base appears to be nearing an end.

Brad Rhen, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania National Guard, said Friday that the investigation is in the “final editing process.” He declined to comment on Bustin’s case specifically, citing the upcoming hearing.

In the July 2020 Inquirer report, employees described guardsmen at the base telling rape jokes and dismissing programs designed to address sexual misconduct. Leaders, employees said, did little to stop the behavior.

» READ MORE: Congresswomen ask Pa. National Guard to look into sexual harassment, retaliation complaints at Horsham base

One former victim’s advocate told The Inquirer that she’d been advised by older enlisted women to “never wear leggings or tight fitting clothing,” but that she’d faced harassment on “so many different occasions.”

“They were very dismissive,” she said. “Their attitude about the sexual assault program was, ‘We don’t need it because it doesn’t happen here.’”

Bustin said a colonel had nicknamed her “the Maytag repairman” because he didn’t believe her job was necessary.

That Inquirer report prompted two Philadelphia-area congresswomen — U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a former Air Force officer and founder of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Caucus, and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, whose district includes the base — to ask the Pennsylvania National Guard to address the allegations.

With the investigation dragging on, Houlahan raised the issue again last month during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, pointing out the repeated delays and pressing Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, for an update.

“It has been, frankly, a very lengthy process,” Houlahan said in an interview, referring to the Horsham investigation. “It seems, in my opinion, to be going more slowly than anybody would like.”

In December 2020, Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, then the head of the Pennsylvania National Guard, retired. He was followed a few months later by Col. William Griffin, the commander of the Horsham attack wing who Bustin and other employees had blamed for many problems on the base. Attempts to reach Griffin were unsuccessful.

Formerly the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, the Horsham Air Guard Station is now the control center for MQ-9 Reaper drones.