Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Report Ignores Problems Says One Senator
Last Friday the DoD issued the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’ (SAPRO) annual report on sexual assaults and harassment in the military. The report showed that sexual assaults reported by military personnel numbered 6,131 in 2014, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., isn’t satisfied saying the report fails to account for attacks on military spouses and civilian women at bases nationwide.
“The more we learn, the worse the problem gets,” Gillibrand said in releasing an analysis by her office of limited data provided by the military on 107 cases at the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in California and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Gillibrand’s review of the cases showed “a high prevalence of sexual assault against civilian women near bases and civilian spouses of service members — two survivor groups not counted in DoD prevalence surveys.”
Gillibrand charged that military spouses and civilian women who live or work near military bases “remain in the shadows” because neither group is counted in the SAPRO reports.
Gillibrand said that her office asked for all files pertaining to the investigation and adjudication of sexual assault cases from 2009 through 2013 at the four bases in February 2014 – Hood, Pendleton, Norfolk and Wright-Patterson. Instead, DoD only provided the 107 case files from 2013 at the four bases.
“These 107 files are a snapshot of the thousands of estimated cases that occur annually — the latest projection for 2014 alone is 20,000 cases of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact,” Gillibrand said in a statement.
“What we’ve found are alarming rates of assault among two survivor groups not routinely counted in DoD surveys, survivors declining to move forward with their cases and very low conviction rates,” she said.
The Pentagon released a statement in response saying: “The department does not have standing authority to survey non-DoD civilian populations. However, federal surveys have found that the prevalence of sexual assault for non-DoD civilian women is statistically the same for military women and female spouses of military members.”
In response to Gillibrand’s charges on underreporting, Laura Seal, a DoD spokesperson, said that the trends in the DoD report showed that in FY2014 there were “indications of increased confidence in our military justice system. Reporting is up: We estimate that one in 10 military victims reported in FY2012, and one in four military victims reported in FY2014.”