Protect Our Defenders News Blog


STATEMENT: Protect Our Defenders Responds to Service Academy Survey


*** STATEMENT *** 


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.

The survey found that:

  • 1 in 12 female students at the academies experienced USC in 2014—twice the rate of the active duty population overall, and a rate that has not improved from 2008.
  • Over 80% of female students who experienced USC chose not to report the assault.
  • Of those who did report, more than 40% say they experienced retaliation.
  • About 50% of female students experienced sexual harassment in 2014.
  • Nearly half the students in the survey who said they experienced unwanted sexual contact faced retaliation.

These numbers came to life in an ESPN story from last year, “Operation Gridiron” a heart-wrenching investigation into retaliation against those that tried to address the issue of sexual assault in the service academies. The investigation exposed allegations of sexual violence involving members of the Air Force Academy football team, and what happened to a former investigator and a former cadet at the Academy when they tried to blow the whistle. Air Force investigator Special Agent (SA) Brandon Enos, and Eric Thomas, a cadet informant, were forced out after their work in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) led to the first successful prosecutions of sexual assault at the Academy in over a decade.

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 they live in an environment in which 50 percent of the women cadets and midshipman are victims of sexual harassment. This crisis won’t end until we have a conflict free, professional military legal system.” 

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

Protect Our Defenders partners with Attorney Susan Burke, Burke PLLC to advance lawsuits filed against the DoD and service academies for repeatedly ignoring rape, sexual assault and harassment, failing to prosecute perpetrators and retaliating against the victim.