May 05, 2016

Gillibrand Statement On Latest DOD Report On Sexual Assault In The Military

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today released the following statement on the Department of Defense’s latest report on sexual assault in the military:

“Last month we learned that Pentagon officials intentionally misled Congress when they falsely claimed that in 93 instances, civilian prosecutors declined to pursue cases. Now they are undercutting their own findings from last year’s report on the massive retaliation problem against service members who reported being sexually assaulted with a survey that their own report calls ‘not representative’. All the while, the number of reported sexual assaults remains the same as it was last year, and the prevalence of sexual assault remains at the same level as it was in 2010.

“The status quo is not working, and frankly, I am deeply disturbed by the tactics the DoD is undertaking to pull the wool over Congress’s eyes.

“Congress and this Administration must step up and bring accountability where the Department of Defense has repeatedly failed. We need to create an unbiased military justice system where trained prosecutors handle these cases, so that sexual predators can get punished instead of protected as they are today. It is our responsibility to the men and women who serve our country to create a military justice system worthy of their sacrifice.”   

Other notable findings from the report:

- The most recent DoD estimate for the number of sexual assaults of U.S. Service Members was approximately 20,000 (Page 12).

- Over 6,000 military sexual assaults were reported in 2015 (Page 11). 

- The DoD prevalence data, combined with the 2015 figures, suggest that roughly 8 out of 10 military sexual assault survivors (75.4%) did not have the confidence in the military justice system to report their crime.

- For the second year in a row, the percentage of unrestricted reports (actionable reports) has decreased. This statistic flies in the face of the DoD’s claim that service members have an increased faith in the military justice system: “Unrestricted reports decreased by 1% while Restricted Reports increased by 2%” (Page 27).

- The report notes that “Most frequently, alleged retaliators were in the chain of the command of the reporter (58%)” (Page 43).

- The report appears to not list any court martial proceedings in relation to retaliation against a sexual assault survivor.

- Over a quarter of the reported rapes (25.5%) were of civilians, who are unaccounted for in the DoD’s prevalence estimate of 20,000 (Page 15 Appendix B).

- The SAPRO report explicitly states that their new and revised retaliation numbers are “not representative.” The report states, “The 2015 MIJES recruited a small sample of respondents and results of the study are not representative of the entire population of survivors” (Page 9).

- Even in their unrepresentative sample, which did not include survivors who dropped out of the process, 63% indicated that the situation continued or got worse for them when they reported retaliation, and 42% indicated that they were told or encouraged to drop the issue (Page viii of Annex 3).