Sexual assaults up at US military schools
Washington - The number of sexual assaults reported at the country's prestigious military academies rose sharply for the second year in a row, according to a Pentagon report issued on Tuesday.
A total of 65 sexual assault cases were reported at the three academies in 2010-11 compared to 41 reports in the previous academic year, the report said.
The rise comes amid extensive efforts by the academies for the Army, Navy and Air Force to prevent sexual assaults and to raise awareness of the problem.
The Pentagon said it was unclear why the number of reported sexual assaults rose and that it was possible that due to recent initiatives, more victims were coming forward to notify authorities.
"The Department does not have the ability to conclusively identify the reasons for this increase in reporting behavior," said the report.
"However, in prior years’ assessments, the Department identified steps the academies could take to encourage more victims to report. Some of the increased reporting of sexual assault may be attributed to these efforts as well as many other factors," it said.
The 41 reported sexual assaults reported at the academies in 2009-2010 marked a 64 percent increase from the previous academic period, according to Pentagon documents.
Tuesday's report said all the academies were complying with strict Defense Department rules on preventing sexual assaults and in some cases surpassed requirements with innovative programs to try to address the problem.
"When service members report sexual assaults, the Department is better positioned to provide resources to victims and hold those who commit sexual assault accountable, as appropriate," the report said.
The report also announced a new policy that will allow a cadet who files a report of sexual assault to be transferred promptly.