by Pam Zubeck
The Pentagon's annual report on sexual harassment and sexual assaults at the service academies, released today, showed a dramatic drop over time at all three schools — from 42 in 2005 to 25 in 2008. (The "2008" period actually ran from June 1, 2008 through May 31, 2009.)
The Air Force Academy's sexual assault reports fell from 24 in 2007 to eight in the most recent year. That figure of 24 was the highest number among the academies in at least a four-year span.
The report is compiled by order of Congress, which demanded the Defense Department monitor sexual assaults at military academies and institute programs to address the issue after the Air Force Academy was caught up in a scandal in 2003. Back then, dozens of female cadets alleged the military ignored their reports and failed to adequately prosecute the offenders. An Air Force working group investigation concluded there was "no systemic acceptance" of sexual assault.
But a congressional commission later disagreed with that finding, saying top Air Force leaders disregarded persistent warnings that a growing number of sexual assaults that went unpunished were creating a culture of hostility toward women. The report also said sexual assault problems dated to the time women were first admitted as cadets in 1976. In response, the academy adopted aggressive training in how to report sexual assaults to help prosecutors win convictions. It also created a far-reaching program to provide victim support.
To see the full report, click here.