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Military faces criticism over handling of sexual assault cases

According to a new report from the Pentagon, sexual assaults are a growing problem in all branches of the military. New numbers show that approximately 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted in 2012. And thousands of victims, it is estimated, are still unwilling to come forward despite the fact that there new oversight and assistance programs have been implemented.

Documents show that reported sexual assaults in the military rose 6 percent to 3,374 in 2012, but a survey of personnel not required to reveal their identities suggested the number could be as high as 26,000, most of these being unreported. That number is up from the 19,000 estimated for 2011. 

Critics say that the military’s justice system is partly to blame, because of how it deals with cases. Current regulations permit officers to reverse criminal convictions, but critics say this practice presents the potential for serious conflicts of interest. Victims, they say, are afraid of coming forward for fear of retaliation, while perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

Embarrassingly, the chief of the Air Force sexual assault prevention unit was recently arrested for sexual assault, only days before the newest assault figures were published.

Sexual assault is a serious crime to face, and the consequences can be far reaching for those who are convicted. Because of this, it is critical for those facing such charges to build a strong case right away and do everything possible to protect their rights. Doing so will help ensure that the best possible outcome is reached in the case.

Source: 9WAFB, “Military sex assault reports up, changes ordered,” Lolita C. Baldor & Donna Cassata, May 7, 2013. 

Source: Source: 9WAFB, “Military sex assault reports up, changes ordered,” Lolita C. Baldor & Donna Cassata, May 7, 2013. 

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