Higher Than Ever: An Estimated 26,000 Sexual Assaults In Military Last Year

Written by Hayes Brown

Just one day after the Air Force’s chief of sexual assault prevention was arrested for sexual assault himself, a new Pentagon report shows a sharp increase in the estimated number of assaults in the military annually.

The report from the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for Fiscal Year 2012 found a 6 percent rise in reported assaults over the last year, for a total of 3,374. But much more troubling is the estimated number of sexual assault incidents that were never officially reported. In last year’s report, there were an estimated 19,000 instances, but this year the number has jumped to an unprecedented 26,000 instances of assault, leaving thousands unreported.

The disparity in the total number of instances of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) compared to those fully reported — where the victim fills out an official report and action is taken — can be seen as being due to victims’ fears of retaliation, including possible discharge from service or being overlooked for a promotion. The new results line up with those seen in a 2011 Pentagon health survey released in April. According to that report, more female service members were willing to come forward about sexual abuse and assault, with roughly one in five women saying they were victims of unwanted sexual contact from another member of the military, but under reporting remains a serious issue.

“Sexual assault has no place in the United States military,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement released Monday night in reponse to news that Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, the Air Forces’s chief of sexual assault prevention, had been arrested on charges of sexual assault. “The American people, including our service members, should expect a culture of absolutely no tolerance for this deplorable behavior that violates not only the law, but basic principles of respect, honor, and dignity in our society and its military.”

Despite that pledge, assault and abuse in the military has been under increased scrutiny in recent months, following a series of high-profile scandals. In February, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was reinstated into service after an Air Force general overturned a jury, voiding Wilkerson’s sexual assault conviction. In 2012, Lackland Air Force base saw 12 instructors investigated for sexual misconduct toward 31 trainees, with at least one trainer sentenced to twenty years for rape and sexual assault. Army Gen. Jeffery Sinclair was likewise charged in 2012 with sexually assaulting a female subordinate, then threatening her career if she went public.

On Monday, a female Air Force general — Lt. Gen. Susan Helms — found her career in question after a hold was placed on her nomination to become vice commander of Space Command. The reason? Her decision to overturn a case of aggravated sexual assault, much in the same fashion as seen in the Wilkerson case. Legislation is currently on the Hill to strike the ability of generals to overturn jury cases in instances of sexual assault, but the underlying problem remains.

To correct that problem, Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) will introduce the Combat Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013 in the Senate on Tuesday. “It’s inexcusable for us to wait any longer to address this issue and I’m glad this bipartisan legislation is taking meaningful steps to do right by our nation’s heroes,”Murray said in a statement.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Photo: ccarlstead/flickr


Sabrina I.
Past Member 3 years ago

Really sad /:

Sandra D.
Sandra D.3 years ago

Why is there a need for a special law for sexual assault in the military? Sexual assault is just that - sexual assault- whether in civilian life or in the military! One law should be able to cover it all anywhere anytime. I find it amazing that such disciplined men would feel the need to subjugate a woman for their own sexual satisfaction - but then we already know that sexual assault is more about power than sex. And these are the same men and women that are being sent overseas to protect the country. I sure hope they are more disciplined where they end up than they seem to be at home. And is';t it ludicrous that a general can overturn any decision made by a jury? Something is not right there! Again shouldn't common sense be more common?

Russell R.
Russell R.3 years ago

Sexual abuse? I fear to think what will happen to these women if ever captured in battle!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

Methinks Terry dropped a few of his marbles along the way. As it is, I don't want or need any attention from males as I am quite independent and successful without one, definitely moreso than if I was burdened with one. (Most women I know who are divorced or widowed would never remarry.) I also don't wear lipstick so I don't need a gay male either. Terry seems to think women can't survive without men. To reverse the statement, what would men do without women? Guess you would have to attain satisfaction alone or with other males. The military or politicians do not turn males gay. They're born that way.Terry's posting is bizarre and makes no sense.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

And yet some people on care2 claim being armed prevents sexual assaults. Who is better armed than the military...sarcasm.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago


Meredith S.
Meredith S.3 years ago

Jacob R.: "Quick and easy answer - take women out of the military altogether - problem solved."

Brilliant idea. It's not like men ever get raped in the military or that most perpetrators of male-on-male rape are heterosexual.


Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck3 years ago

This makes me really really furious,... My headache just got from bad to worse cause I got so "worked up" over this.....

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

along with criminal charges!!!

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

this makes me so angry!!! these bastards should be dishonourably discharged!