Protect Our Defenders News Blog


***STATEMENT*** Protect Our Defenders Responds to Pentagon Report on Sexual Assault in the Military


May 1, 2017



Advocacy Organization Continues to Push for Fundamental Reform

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) released the findings of its bi-annual Workplace and Gender Relations Survey, which measures the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in the military. The new report shows that while sexual assault numbers dropped over the past year, military leadership still has a long way to go when it comes to addressing this crisis.

The report released today indicates that sexual assault rates have dropped from 20,300 in 2014 to 14,900 service members sexually assaulted in 2016. For women, the drop was less significant: 8,600 service women were sexually assaulted in 2016, compared to 9,600 in 2014. Notably, 58% women who reported a sexual assault indicated that they experienced retaliation — virtually unchanged from 2010. Out of more than 4,500 unrestricted reports that were made in 2016, only 124 cases resulted in a conviction for a non consensual sex offense. The drop in prevalence is a step in the right direction, but the military still has a long way to go in ending the epidemic of rape and sexual assault, holding assailants accountable, preventing and punishing retaliation, and eradicating rampant misogyny and harassment within the ranks.

The new report comes out in the midst of the “Marines United” photo sharing scandal, with more than 30 Marines facing punishment for sharing nude photos and making threats against women in a private Facebook group. And earlier this year 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.

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

“It is unmistakable as power and discretion has been taken away from commanders, sexual assault numbers have decreased. The Pentagon and their allies in Congress have steadfastly opposed finishing this job by turning authority over to independent prosecutors and further reducing the impact of command bias.”

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