Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with members of the Sexual Assault Response Systems Panel  in 2013.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with members of the Sexual Assault Response Systems Panel in 2013. Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Defense Department file photo

Reports of Military Sexual Assault Increased Over Past Year

But Pentagon leaders said the uptick reflects soldiers feeling more comfortable reporting.

The Pentagon unveiled four new initiatives Thursday to help combat military sexual assault, which saw an 8 percent increase in reporting over the past year.

"The Department of Defense has been taking aggressive action over the past year and a half to stop sexual assault," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a press conference. "... We believe that our efforts to prevent sexual assault are beginning to have an impact."

There were more than 5,983 reports of military sexual assault during the 2014 fiscal year, compared with 5,518 in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report to President Obama also released Thursday.

Overall, the number of cases of unwanted sexual contact, which can include sexual assault, decreased to approximately 19,000 in 2014 from 26,000 in 2012.

While Hagel said that the uptick in reporting is "good news," he added that "these crimes however are still heavily underreported."

The department believes the increase reflects that more victims felt comfortable coming forward, according to the report, not that more crimes were committed. The Pentagon estimates that approximately one in four sexual-assault victims filed a report over the past year, compared with one in 10 in 2012.

Moving forward, Hagel said the department will work to customize sexual-assault-prevention methods based on location to help identify possible community risk factors for assault; implement new training for supervisors; and require commanders to assess, and take corrective action on, all reports of retaliation.

The Pentagon will also share the department's sexual-assault reports with all soldiers, which the department said it hopes will lead to more reporting of incidents.

But retaliation remains a problem for the military. More than 60 percent of those who reported sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact said they experienced some form of retaliation, including social and professional retaliation, according to the report.

Last year, Obama said the department had a year to complete the report and crack down on sexual assault, suggesting that more reforms might be necessary if he didn't see results.

While the department acknowledged that more work remains to be done, it also pointed to areas of improvement, including increased training in sexual-assault prevention and streamlining how to respond to reports of sexual assault across the military.

The Pentagon's report comes as a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, is pushing to remove a commander's ability to decide which cases are prosecuted. They hope to attach the proposal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate is expected to vote on next week.

"It should be a screaming red flag to everyone when 62 percent of those who say they reported a crime were retaliated against—nearly two-thirds—the exact same number as last year," Gillibrand said in a statement before the press conference. She added "There is no other mission in the world for our military where this much failure would be allowed."

Gillibrand faces one very large obstacle, though: The NDAA likely won't be open to amendments.

Others were more hopeful about the report, with Sen. Claire McCaskill calling the findings "mostly good news" at a press conference Thursday afternoon after the report was released.

Sen. Carl Levin, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the report "hard evidence that we're making progress."

Both senators opposed Gillibrand's legislation earlier this year.

And across the Hill, Reps. Mike Turner and Niki Tsongas, who cochair the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, said the "rise in reporting is a possible signal that legislative and military changes from recent years are having an encouraging impact."

But the president of Protect Our Defenders, a victims-advocacy group, came out in opposition to the report. Don Christensen, the former chief prosecutor for the Air Force, said in a statement that the "Pentagon has misled President Obama and the American public with cherry-picked information from its new sexual-assault survey."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.