Protect Our Defenders News Blog


***STATEMENT*** Protect Our Defenders Responds to New Report on Sexual Assault at Military Academies Show Crisis Getting Worse


March 15, 2017



Washington, D.C. – Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its Annual Report on Sexual Violence and Harassment at the Military Service Academies. DoD’s findings show that despite repeated assurances by military leadership, they have failed to address the crisis of sexual assault and harassment at service academies. Rather than reducing the rate of sexual assault and rape, the just released report shows that sexual assault rates skyrocketed by 33% since the last survey released. In the 2015-2016 academic year, 12.2% of women in the academies experienced rape or sexual assault, and 48% faced severe and persistent sexual harassment.

The report comes one day after a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the recent “Marines United” photo sharing scandal. And earlier this month the Washington Post broke a story involving the President’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster that showed he violated U.S. Army regulations by allowing two cadets from the West Point Rugby team to attend Ranger School, despite being under criminal investigation for sexual assault.

For the last 25 years, military leadership has promised to end the sexual abuse of military members. General Robert Neller repeated this promise yesterday during testimony before the Senate and asked Congress to place their trust in commanders. In response Senator Sheehan rightly noted, “It’s hard to believe something is really going to be done when we hear this repeated again and again.”

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

 “This latest DoD report showing a shocking increase of sexual assaults and high rates of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the military academies should make it clear to Congress and the public that despite decades of promises from military commanders to own and fix this crisis, they have nothing to show for it. Commanders have come before Congress countless times to ask for the public’s trust and faith that they take this issue seriously and insist that they alone must be responsible for fixing it. And yet, the numbers released today and the illicit photo sharing scandal that continues to unfold show that this trust is misplaced. The military has proven time and again that commanders cannot solve this crisis.”

Annual Report on Sexual Violence and Harassment at the Military Service Academies

Infographic on Key Findings

ABC News: Top Marine testifies on explicit-photo scandal: ‘We’ve got to change, and that’s on me’

Washington Post: McMaster rebuked by Army in 2015 for his handling of sexual assault case

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at