Sexual Assault Reports Are Up 50 Percent in the Military

Defense Department file photo

According to a new report from the Pentagon, sexual assault reports went up 50 percent in the military from 2012 to 2013. This is likely due to increased confidence in the system, not an increase in crimes.

The Defense Department will release its full report Thursday afternoon, according to Politico's Mike Allen. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, tells the Associated Press, "We assess that this unprecedented increase is consistent with a growing confidence in the response systems." 

Prosecutions of perpetrators within the military have also increased over the past year. DoD officials say the military was able to take "some action" against 73 percent of accused perpetrators in the military justice system in 2013. In 2012, they took some action against 66 percent. Since Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to take sex crimes outside the chain of command failed in the Senate this year, the military will continue to pursue prosecutions on its own. 

One area where Defense officials see room for improvement is with men who are victims of sexual assault. About 14 percent of the 5,061 reports in 2013 came from male victims, but officials do not think that number adequately represents the actual crimes. Nate Galbreath, the senior executive adviser for the Pentagon's sexual assault prevention office, told the AP, "There is still a misperception that this is a women's issue and women's crime. It's disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report."

While 5,061 sexual assault claims does represent a 50 percent increase in reporting, the military estimates that somewhere in the neighborhood of 26,000 assaults occur each year. 

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