According to new statistics released by the Department of Defense on Thursday, May 1, the number of reports of military sexual assault increased by 50% last year. Although this may seem shocking, officials are viewing the increase in filed claims as a positive sign that the system is working.
The military has faced years of criticism regarding a culture of sexual assault and policies that failed to encourage and properly handle victims' claims. After implementing significant changes, officials have seen the number of reports increase significantly. They state that the more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault filed last year don't necessarily indicate a rise in the number of assaults being committed, but rather a more accepting military environment and in which victims feel comfortable about stepping forward.
A better response system has helped the military ease criticism and pressure from victims' rights advocates and Congress, even though officials have stated that a small percentage of reports resulted in courts-martial.
Data released by the DoD for 2013 revealed the following:
- 5.061 reports of sexual assault
- 1,293 reports were "restricted" – meaning victims did not identify offenders
- 370 service members were court-martialed and convicted on some charge, including 197 that required sex offender registration
Ultimately, the numbers indicate that significant change has taken place, and that the military has devoted more time and resources to combatting the issue of sexual assault within its ranks. For service members who face these allegations today, this means that tough prosecution and serious penalties may lie ahead.
If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual assault or a related offense as a service member, Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law can help protect your rights and future. Learn more about your defense by calling (866) 624-7503.