The Facts

   

View Protect Our Defender’s “Get the Facts on Military Sexual Assaults” fact sheet

View military sexual assault Infographic from the San Antonio Express-News

The Pentagon’s 2012 Annual Report shows a 34.5 percent increase in reported sexual assaults.

  • A Department of Defense survey of active duty members revealed that only 9.8% of sexual assaults within the services were reported – meaning more than 26,000 incidents of sexual assault and other sexual crimes actually occurred in 2012, compared to the 3,374 that were officially reported.
  • Despite modest attempts, DOD has failed to address the chronic underreporting of sexual assault and harassment. Again, DOD itself estimates that more than 90% of sexual assaults went unreported in 2010.
  • The military adjudication system lacks independence. Military judges depend on command. Judges won’t and can’t hear cases until the commander refers them. If the commander decides to go the non-judicial rout, a judge has no role in the case. Furthermore, even if a case does make it to a courts-martial trial, the commander has the authority to overturn or lessen a sentence in the event that the assailant is found guilty.
  • The traditional military culture is not conducive to resolving issues of sexual assault and harassment, and sexual violence continues to infect the armed services.
  • Currently, base commanders have significant discretion in dealing with accusations of sexual assault. Evidence is strong that many fail to exercise that discretion effectively or at all. Reporting sexual assault by a commander could adversely affect a service member’s career.
  • The military’s default position on this issue is that redress must come through the chain of command. According to the Manual for Courts-Martial, “Each commander has discretion to dispose of offenses by members of that command.” Commanders – whose promotions are dependent on the conduct and performance of the troops they supervise – have an incentive to see that allegations are few and convictions are fewer.
  • The Cox Commission sponsored by the National Institute of Military Justice, as well as several other actors, have consistently observed that the U.S. has fallen behind countries such as Canada and the U.K. in terms of its military justice system, which have taken the reporting, prosecution, and adjudication of sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.
Learn More
Annual Department of Defense Sexual Assault Reports
Department of Defense Sexual Assault Research