Sexual assaults at US military academies increased by nearly 50 percent last year, according to a new Pentagon report that suggests far more encounters go unreported.
More than half of the reported incidents at the Army, Navy and Air Force schools involved alcohol — and nearly a third of male students and 15 percent of female students said they drink heavily, meaning five or more drinks in a day, an anonymous survey found.
The total of unwanted sexual contact — which ranges from groping to rape — increased from 507 in 2015-16 to 747 in 2017-18.
“We’re disheartened and disappointed that the things and the strategies that we’ve employed just really aren’t getting the results that we want,” Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, told USA Today on Thursday.
He said about 16 percent of women and 2 percent of men at the academies have reported being sexually assaulted.
Specifically, more male and female cadets at the Army’s academy at West Point, as well as women at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, reported unwanted sexual contact. The number of incidents remained unchanged at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper and Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley called the report “troubling and disappointing.”
“There is no room in the U.S. Army for sexual harassment or sexual assault,” they said in a joint statement. “This is a readiness issue that affects our ability to prepare to fight and win our Nation’s wars as much as it is an issue of values. As such, we have directed the West Point leadership to report back with an updated action plan in the coming weeks.”
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