Sexual-Harassment Reports at Military Academies Jump 59%
The Department of Defense (DoD) has released key findings from the Academic Program Year (APY) 2010-2011 ‘Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.’
The report also contains the results from the ‘2011 Service Academy Gender Relations Focus Groups.’
‘One sexual assault is one too many,’ said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
‘Whether it’s in our academies or our ranks, at sea or ashore, there’s no place for this unacceptable behavior,’ Panetta said. ‘We treat each other with dignity in this institution. I expect everyone in this department to live up to that high standard. This is a leadership issue, first and foremost, so I also expect us to lead with integrity and with energy to eliminate sexual assault and harassment from our culture. I’m confident the steps we are taking are the right ones, but we must continue to improve.’
One of the department’s strategic priorities is to address the increase in the number of reports made to authorities to ensure victims obtain needed support and services.
Supporting victims is also the focus of two new DoD policies. Under a new policy on expedited transfers, service members who have been the victim of sexual assault and have filed an unrestricted report now have the option to request an expedited transfer from their unit and/or installation.
The service member must receive a response to the transfer request from the unit commander within 72 hours, and can request a review of any denied request by a general/flag officer (or SES equivalent) in the chain of command and receive that response within the next 72 hours.
The second new policy standardizes the retention periods for sexual assault records across the military services. In unrestricted cases, specified documents will be retained for 50 years and in restricted cases, for five years, to ensure victims have extended access to documents related to the sexual assault.
The academies saw an overall increase in the number of sexual assault reports made to authorities in APY 2010-2011. During the evaluation period, a total of 65 reports of sexual assault involved cadets and midshipmen compared to a total of 41 reports in the prior APY.
‘We know that the military academies are similar to college campuses around the country in that sexual harassment and assault are challenges that all faculty, staff and students need to work to prevent,’ said Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. ‘However, when it does occur, we owe it to those who have been victimized, and to every cadet and midshipman, to do everything possible to provide needed support and to hold those who commit sexual assault appropriately accountable.’