SecDef Panetta vows to crack down on the epidemic of rape in the military
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in an interview this week with NBC’s Natalie Morales that the military’s tendency to sweep rape cases under the rug instead of prosecuting them is “an outrage” he intends to change.
Only 240 cases of sexual assault in the military were prosecuted in 2011, out of more than 3,000 reported cases. The Department of Defense estimates that the number of actual sexual assaults in the military each year is closer to 19,000, although many service members never come forward out of fear of retaliation.
Panetta said he is making it a priority this year to crack down on military rape cases.
“These are tough cases, but the fact is, we can do this,” he said in the interview, which airs Thursday night on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams.” “We need to improve the investigations and ensure we have prosecutors that are willing to take these cases to court.”