Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Protect Our Defenders Releases Analysis of DoD Service Academy Survey




Washington, D.C. – Today, the Pentagon released their annual survey on unwanted sexual contact (USC) and sexual harassment at military service academies, which highlights the continued need for fundamental reform and a conflict-free legal system. Protect Our Defenders has analyzed the report and has released analysis of the survey below.

Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Don Christensen, Colonel (ret.) USAF released the following statement:

“While The Pentagon wants to tout every report as a victory, they ignore troubling numbers – 85 percent of sexual assault victims don’t have confidence to come forward. It should not be surprising when 40 percent of the victims that do come forward are retaliated against. And students live in an environment in which 50 percent of the women cadets and midshipmen are victims of sexual harassment. This crisis won’t end until we have a conflict free, professional military legal system. The high rates of sexual assault hurt the reputation of our academies. It will hurt the academies’ abilities to recruit and retain the best and brightest. Today, students at our military academies face the same sexually hostile environments that they faced 7 years ago, despite years decades of incremental reforms and promises of improvement.

“While the military touts a decline in reports of sexual assault at the academies, from 70 in 2013 to 61 in 2014, the Associated Press noted that “[t]he overall decline…was largely the result of a drop in the number of reports filed by civilians against cadets and midshipmen and a decline in the number of students reporting assaults that occurred before they attended the academies. There were 53 reports of sexual assault filed in the 2013-14 school year by cadets or midshipmen who said the attack happened while they were at the academy. That number was the same in the 2012-13 school year.”

Protect Our Defenders released the following analysis of the survey results:

The Academies Remain a Sexually Hostile Environment in 2014

  • Incidents of USC among female students is high. 1 in 12 female students at the academies experienced USC in 2014.
  • USC among female students has not improved from 2008 levels. According to the DoD’s report, the 2014 rate is not statistically different from the 2008 rate.
  • Sexual harassment is shockingly common for female students. About 50% of female students faced sexual harassment in 2014.
  • Most female students do not report the crime. Over 80% of female students who experienced USC chose not to report.
  • Retaliation is unacceptably high. Of those who did report, more than 40% say they experienced professional and/or social retaliation.
  • Most students who experienced USC say they were victimized more than once. 75% of male and female students who experienced USC said they experienced at least two different assaults.
  • The Academy rates appear higher than the active duty population. The rate of USC among female students is twice the rate of the active duty population overall.

With the release of this report, it is clear that neither the military nor the academies have made long-term improvement in reducing USC. As indicated in the RAND survey for the military service branches, 2014 rates had not improved over 2010 rates. Likewise, academy rates have not improved over 2008 rates.

Although the DoD’s fact sheet asserts that the rates are the lowest in a decade, the DoD’s full report states that USC 2014 rates are not statistically different from 2008.

Today, students at our military academies face the same sexually hostile environments that they faced 7 years ago, despite years of incremental reforms and promises of improvement. According to the report, students fear that reporting the crime will hurt their careers and chances of entering the military. The persistence of sexual assault and harassment at such pervasive levels hurts the reputation of our academies. It will hurt the demies’ abilities to recruit and retain the best and brightest.

This sentiment was evident in a public comment made in 2013 by Sen. McCain, during a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: “Just last night, a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not.” The survey shows that in 2014, the academies remained a sexually hostile environment for young women seeking a career in the armed forces, with 1 in 2 female students facing sexual harassment. Evidence shows that environments that condone sexual harassment carry increased risks for sexual assault. The academies are the training ground for the next generation of military leaders. By not dealing with the problem effectively in the academies, we are losing future leaders, while graduating predators into the military.

Associated Press: Fewer reported sex assaults at military schools

[VIDEO] ESPN: Operation Gridiron: Air Force Whistleblower Speaks Out

New York Times: Informant Debate Renewed as Air Force Revisits Cadet Misconduct

Washington Post: Accuser in Naval Academy rape case granted a day off from testifying

New York Times: Navy Hearing in Rape Case Raises Alarm

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization.  We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at