Military sexual assault claims up 50%
WASHINGTON — The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent this year — an increase that Defense officials say may suggest that victims are becoming more willing to come forward.
The tumultuous year of scandals has shined a spotlight on the crimes and put pressure on the military to take aggressive action, officials said.
A string of assaults and arrests triggered outrage in Congress and set off months of debate over how to change the military's justice system. Meanwhile, military leaders launched a series of new programs intended to beef up accountability and to encourage victims to come forward.
According to early data obtained by The Associated Press, there were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault filed during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared to 3,374 in 2012. Of this year's reports, about 10 percent involved incidents that occurred before the victim entered the military, up from just 4 percent only a year ago. The increase, officials said, suggests that confidence in the system is growing and that victims are more willing to come forward.
Defense officials said they are cautious in their conclusions about the preliminary data. But they said surveys, focus groups and repeated meetings with service members throughout the year suggest that the number of actual incidents — from unwanted sexual contact and harassment to violent assaults — has remained largely steady.
“Given the multiple data points, we assess that this is more reporting,” said Col. Alan R. Metzler, deputy director of the Pentagon's sexual-assault prevention and response office. He noted that more victims are agreeing to make official complaints, rather than simply seeking medical care without filing formal accusations.
The military has struggled for years to get victims to report sexual harassment and assault in a stern military culture that emphasizes rank, loyalty and toughness. Too often, victims have complained that they were afraid to report assaults to ranking officers or that their initial complaints would be rebuffed or ignored.
Officials announced earlier this year that an anonymous survey found that about 26,000 service members reported some type of unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.
The increases reports across the services ranges from a low of about 45 percent for the Air Force to a high of 86 percent for the Marines. The Navy had an increase of 46 percent and the Army had a 50 percent jump.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Dusty Atlantic Ocean thwarts tropical storms
- Clintons hauled in $139M in past 8 years
- Planned Parenthood recordings release halted by judge
- Baltimore slayings climb to level unseen in decades
- Analysts expect French laboratory will be able to provide details from examination of jet part
- Amid 4-year drought, fears rise of trees dying, falling in California
- Fires’ fury unabated in California
- Despite U.S. dollars and bombs, effort failing to squash ISIS
- Suspect in South Carolina church shooting wants to plead guilty to hate crimes, attorney says
- Global lion population falling primarily because of loss of habitat, experts say
- Feds eye use of federal dollars for ads for for-profit colleges