Sexual Assault Reports at U.S. Military Academies Increase During 2020-2021

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U.S. Military Academies See Increased Sexual Assault Reports in 2020-2021 School Year

U.S. Military Academies See Increased Sexual Assault Reports in 2020-2021 School Year

Feb 18, 2022

Reports of sexual assault at U.S. military academies increased significantly during the 2020-2021 school year, according to multiple media outlets. The Associated Press (AP) noted that as students returned to in-person classes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, an upward trend in sexual assault allegations was confirmed despite “an influx of new sexual assault prevention and treatment programs.”

According to CNN, a Defense Department report released Thursday confirmed that claims of sexual assault increased by 25%, while claims of sexual harassment increased by 150% at U.S. military academies during the latest academic year (when compared to the previous academic year).

The Defense Department’s Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies indicated the following troubling statistics:

  • 161 reports of sexual assault were received compared to 129 reports the previous academic year (an increase of 32 reports).
  • A total of 30 complaints of sexual harassment were made during the 2020-2021 academic year compared to 12 reports the year before (an increase of 18).

The report collects information from all three U.S. military academies for the academic year beginning June 1, 2020, and concluding May 31, 2021. Those academies include:

  • The U.S. Military Academy
  • The U.S. Naval Academy
  • The U.S. Air Force Academy

Of the 161 reports of sexual assault where cadets and midshipmen attending the military academies were the victim or alleged offender:

  • 131 were from people reporting incidents that occurred during military service
  • 14 reports were from incidents that occurred prior to military service
  • 16 reports were made by “active-duty service members, civilians, or prep school students”

Of the 30 sexual harassment complaints made in the 2020-2021 academic year:

  • Nine were formal complaints
  • 21 were informal complaints

The Defense Department report stated that the reason for the substantial increase in sexual assault and harassment claims was “unclear.” But the report also confirmed that the Defense Department “did not administer a scientific prevalence survey this year.”

Nate Galbreath, the Defense Department’s Acting Director of the Sexual Assault Response Office, provided speculation as to why the increase in sex crime reports had occurred during a Thursday phone call with media outlets. According to Galbreath, the increase could have been due to either “more crime to report,” or that “people overall were encouraged or feel more confident in making those reports.”

We recognize this is a troubling problem, it’s a horrible thing to have to experience, and we are here to help make sure that it happens less often and that victims get the kind of care and support,” Galbreath said.

Galbreath also noted that the military academies are working to implement recommendations that have been provided by the Independent Review Commission (IRC) on Sexual Assault in the Military over the past year, according to CNN.

The AP also reported that Army Secretary Christine Wormuth met with academy leaders during a visit to West Point earlier this month. At said meeting, staff members and cadets reportedly talked about the sexual assault problem, including the “so-called Trust Program.” The Trust Program, led by cadets, helps train them to address sexual assault and harassment and encourage intervention when they see questionable behavior, according to the AP.

West Point is working hard to increase cadets’ trust in their reporting system while at the same time preventing events from happening in the first place,” Wormuth said, adding that West Point has increased resources for victims “to ensure the academy handles each case with care.”

U.S. Military Sexual Assault Statistics

U.S. Military Sexual Assault Statistics
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is proud to partner with the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence non-profit, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), in helping to spread awareness regarding sexual assault and abuse in the military.

According to data compiled by RAINN, members of the military who are sexually assaulted tend to not report crimes. In fact, only 43% of female survivors and 10% of male survivors are confirmed to actually report incidents of military sexual violence.

Additionally, the RAND Corporation, a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges, confirms the following military sexual assault statistics:

  • One in 16 women and one in 143 men are estimated to experience sexual assault within the Department of Defense.
  • At military service academies, one in six women and one in 29 men experience sexual assault.
  • One in four women and one in 16 men are estimated to experience sexual harassment within the military.
  • Deterrence alone is insufficient to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

San Diego Navy Base Sexual Assault Charges Dropped

Earlier this month, KPBS reported that the U.S. Navy had officially dropped sexual assault charges against an enlisted SEAL in a case involving a female sailor at a Fourth of July party in Iraq. That sexual assault case “prompted the rare withdrawal of the special operations unit from the Middle East in 2019,” according to KPBS.

The military court at Navy Base San Diego reportedly accepted an agreement allowing Adel A. Enayat to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault consummated by battery for biting the female sailor’s face and grabbing her neck. Enayat’s attorney reportedly described the incident as “rough, consensual sex.” According to the agreement, Enayat will immediately serve up to 90 days in the brig.

California SB 352 and Military Sex Crimes

California Senate Bill 352 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 16, 2021, and officially took effect on January 1 of this year. Prior to the passage of SB 352, sexual assault or harassment could not be prosecuted within the U.S. Military – either criminally or civilly.

With SB 352 now in effect, sexual assault and harassment are considered stand-alone offenses under California’s incorporation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. SB 352 effectively removes any question over whether sexual assault or harassment are punishable within California’s military ranks.

As an article co-authored by the Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, and State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman noted in July:

The bill’s message of zero tolerance for sexual harassment conveys an important message to both victims (who might be less likely to report sexual harassment without clear indication that it is a punishable offense) and potential perpetrators.

Section 1 of SB 352 includes the following language (sections D and E):

  • Eradicating sexual harassment within our military forces is the next step in ensuring that California remains the leader in providing unparalleled protections to members of the military.
  • The California Military Department is among the best in the nation at implementing a robust Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. Making sexual harassment a standalone offense will allow Commanders in the California National Guard to lead the nation in proactive sexual assault prevention by giving them a tool to discipline or remove from the ranks service members guilty of sexual harassment before their misconduct can escalate to sexual assault.
  • Additionally, SB 352 clarifies that sex crimes committed by military members while on duty are not protected from civil or criminal liability. Furthermore, the bill requires that statistical data from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Report – a database for documenting sex crimes – be released.

The full text of California SB 352 is available here.

Contact a California Military Sexual Assault Lawyer

For a survivor of military sexual assault, a civil lawsuit may be brought in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances your sex crime, DLG will pursue various compensatory damages through a civil claim.

Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a military sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:

  • Counseling or therapy expenses
  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological distress
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Hospital or medical expenses

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

DLG is one of California’s leading sexual assault firms representing survivors across the United States. Founded by former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, DLG offers survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.

DLG’s trusted military sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.

Some of our recent sexual assault civil lawsuit victories include:

For a free and confidential consultation regarding your military sexual assault civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. DLG’s California sexual assault attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.


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