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AFA sexual assault numbers fall



A U.S. Defense Department study of sexual assaults at service academies shows that incidents reported at the Air Force Academy declined in the last academic year, compared with the prior year.

Between June 2012 and May 2013, the academy received 45 reports of sexual assault. Seven of those reported at the academy had taken place elsewhere, prior to the victim starting school. The comparable figure for the 2011-12 school year is 52, with 12 occurring prior to academy entry.

"We are encouraged by the results of the report as a whole, but we also realize there is more work to be done," AFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson stated in a release.

The report sent out Friday didn't include an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen that determines "prevalence" rates, which encompass incidents that go unreported and historically run 10 times higher than reported assaults. Hence, the report said, "The Department cannot say with certainty whether the decrease in reporting this year at [the Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point] was due to fewer assaults occurring, or due to fewer victims opting to report."

AFA numbers dwarfed those at the U.S. Naval Academy (15 reports) and the U.S. Military Academy (10). But Johnson noted the report highlights several AFA programs, and mentioned that Johnson "is creating a position working directly for her that will serve as the focal point for diversity, inclusion, and the culture and climate challenges of today."

The report says focus group members at each academy revealed concern "that reporting a sexual assault will impact their reputation and social standing with classmates." That's a problem, the report says, noting the same camaraderie that instills collective identity and purpose can establish a code of silence.

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