Reports of sexual assault by cadets and midshipmen at U.S. military academies rose 32 percent during the last school year, reflecting increases in those crimes and a greater willingness to report them, reports USA Today. There were 122 reports of sexual assault in the 2018-19 school year, compared to 92 in 2017-18. “We are encouraged that more cadets and midshipmen made reports of sexual assault this year,” said Nate Galbreath of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. Last year, a more detailed report of sexual assault at the academies showed there were 747 incidents of unwanted sexual contact — ranging from groping to rape — in 2017-18. That was an increase of nearly 50 percent from the 507 incidents in 2015-16.
That report, based on anonymous surveys the Army, Air Force and Naval academies, is considered the best measure of the problem. An advocate for victims of sexual assault in the military said this year’s numbers reflect an increase in incidents, not just a greater willingness to report them. “Since rates were up dramatically in last year’s survey, I don’t see this as good news,” said Don Christensen of Protect Our Defenders and the former chief prosecutor for the Air Force. “Rather, it’s a reflection of a worsening problem.” The new report notes that reporting sexual assault can be risky to students’ academic and military careers. Cadets and midshipmen fear being ostracized and damaging their reputations.
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