FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2019
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL HEARING AFTER REPORT SHOWS 47% INCREASE IN MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMY SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its Annual Report on Sexual Violence and Harassment at the Military Service Academies. The Pentagon report shows a continued failure to address the crisis of sexual assault and harassment. Sexual assault reports skyrocketed 47% since the last report was last released in 2017. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 12.2% of women, or 507 victims, reported sexual assault, and from 2017-2018, that number rose to 15.8%, or 747 victims. The rate of sexual assault has doubled since over the last four years. This year’s report also shows that over 50% of the women attending the academies were sexual harassed in the academic year.
The report follows a groundswell of media coverage pointing to a crisis of sexual assault and harassment in our service academies. In 2017, news broke of the Air Force Academy’s efforts to sweep sexual assaults under the rug and punish victims, culminating in CBS’s 2018 Emmy-winning coverage of the epidemic of sexual assault and the mishandling of these cases by the Air Force Academy. Despite these cases coming to light and empty promises by the military, sexual assaults are increasing in numbers at an alarming rate. Protect Our Defenders (POD) calls on Congress to hold a hearing and take swift and actionable steps to follow through on decades of unfulfilled promises to fix the problem.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders (POD), released the following statement:
“The academies are grooming the next generation of military leaders. They are supposed to be held to a higher standard. What message does this send to the troops they will be leading? If there was a 15.8% casualty rate for our troops, people would demand action, yet there has been nothing done to address the current 15.8% sexual assault rate. It is time for the President and Congress to replace military leadership who have failed to stem the tide of sexual assault and harassment. Holding senior leaders responsible will send a clear message that not only can the academies do better, but they must do better.”
POD is currently directly representing two cadets at US Air Force Academy and our network of pro bono attorneys have helped seven other cadets and midshipmen. The services we provide include representation during the investigation and prosecution of their offenders and fighting against retaliatory actions by the academies after the survivors report the offender. We have used what we have learned about the abusive and hostile process to successfully advocate for reform in Congress.