Sexual Assault, Harassment Way Up at Military Academies

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Cadets training at West Point. Photo by Mike Strasser/West Point Directorate of Public Affairs & Communications via Flickr

After years of attempts to reduce sexual assault at U.S. military academies and declarations of zero-tolerance, a Pentagon survey shows nearly 50 percent more students reported unwanted sexual contact in the 2017-18 academic year compared to the previous year, USA Today reports.

About 16 percent of women and 2 percent of men at the military’s premier military colleges reported being sexually assaulted, and 50 percent of women reported being sexually harassed, said Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Galbreath said the Pentagon is “disheartened and disappointed” by the increase in incidents.

Incidents of unwanted sexual contact at the academies were disclosed to researchers in a confidential survey, not necessarily reported to authorities for possible prosecution.

Despite the increase in sexual assaults, cadets and midshipmen showed no greater willingness to lodge formal complaints, Galbreath said. After a 2013 Pentagon report on the problem, Congress legislated changes in how sexual assault in the military was prosecuted and mandated enhanced care for victims.

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