A new federal report shows that the military has made progress in its handling of sexual assault cases, Pentagon officials said, as they fought the perception that an 8 percent increase in reported assaults in 2014 signaled the military's problem was growing worse, reports the New York Times. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the rise in reports did not mean that there were more sexual assaults in the military, but that it reflected the Pentagon's continued efforts to encourage victims to report when they have been raped or assaulted.
The 1,100-page study, ordered by President Obama, found “substantive, comprehensive progress” in the military's handling of the issue, the Pentagon said. “After last year's unprecedented 50 percent increase in reports of sexual assault, the rate has continued to go up,” Hagel said. “That's actually good news.” The study said 5,983 cases of sexual assault had been reported this year, compared with 5,518 last year. Officials emphasized that the gap was closing between the number of reported episodes and the total number. One out of every four victims now reports being assaulted; in 2012, that number was one in 10. Officials credited the improvement tochanges that include increased resources and training for those conducting investigations and efforts to better support victims.