There are facts and suppositions, followed by hype and speculation, that swirl around the question of sexual assaults, rape, and deviant behavior in the Military. Fortunately, actual facts and figures are also available, even if under-reported in the media. Unfortunately, some of the data is still presented in murky terms. Let's face it, politics and social causes do not always want to report the facts.
Bottom line: Our Troops are not the rapists that some would portray. Our Military Leaders do not tolerate or protect sexual deviants.
I have not weighed in on this issue previously, because I didn't have the hard data to provide a true assessment. While I'll present my abridged version here, a more detailed analysis was published previously on Perspectives.
I have NO sympathy for perpetrators of sexual crimes. It appalls me that some that wear the uniform commit such crimes, but I also recognize that Our Troops come from all walks of life, and represent a small slice of the civilian population from which they are drawn. I find that the punishments in both civilian and military life for these crimes is insufficient, but also that the majority of Americans would not support the severity of what I do believe to be appropriate.
Also, I recognize the reasons why a victim of sexual assault might decide not to report the crime, or to decide not to pursue prosecution, though I wish that all victims would pursue prosecution to the maximum extent of the law. I know victims that have not reported it, that did not even tell me, until it was beyond anyone's ability to take the appropriate actions. I would encourage those that are victims of such crimes to report it as soon as possible, and to seek the counsel of a trusted leader if they are in doubt as to how to handle it. The NCO's I've known and respected have taken as dismal an opinion of the criminals involved as have I.
So, on to the good news! The Military has acted quickly in investigating and prosecuting crimes of a sexual nature. All cases initiated pre-2009 are completed and only 45 cases from 2009 were incomplete as of October 2010. All cases of 2010 in combat zones were resolved in 2010, and many of the cases initiated in 2010, were completed by the end of the year.
More cases ended in conviction by court-martial than were initiated with a forensic examination or within 72 hours of that attack. The Military maintains a way for victims to initiate a report without committing to prosecution. And the Military actively instructs all Troops on what to do if they are in a sexual crime incident. 93% of Troops believe they have been given sufficient information to stop an attack, and to take proper actions if it occurs. They trust the system in place.
Most cases resolved resulted in punitive action against the suspect, and 344 cases resulted in the clearling of the defendent of wrongdoing. Many of the cases were not perpetuated by a Service member, and hence those were referred to the judicial authority of the defendent. Of the cases without prosecution, the majority were due to a lack of evidence or a choice by the victim to not participate in the prosecution.
But there is also supposition in the report. And that has been used by politicians and "activists" to misportray reality. In fact, in researching the information here, I came across a politician who seems to do so purposefully, or for lack of ability to read. As I mentioned, I understand why a victim would choose not to report. I know more victims of sexual assault than I care to believe is "normal," in American society. And those are almost exclusively civilian sector attacks. But how does one accurately assess the true incidence of sexual assault versus the number reported?
In order to combat sexual crimes, one must make potential victims and potential heroes aware of how to report it, how to stop it, and ensure that authority figures know how to not make it worse should it occur. The Military has gone to great lengths to make sure all Service Members have the information necessary to not only stop an assault, but to ensure that the criminals are prosecuted and removed from the ranks. By doing so, this increases the percentage of victims that will report it. That is a good thing.
More than 92% of US Troops have faith in the Military System to do the right thing, and believe that they have been given sufficient information to take the correct actions, should they become aware of such a crime. The Military has a system in place that completely protects a victim, even should they be unwilling to "go on the record." It is called a "restricted report." What this means is that victims are more likely to report a sexual assault in the Military than outside the Military. There are literally layers of leaders and specialists to go to. A victim does not have to ask a stranger (Law Enforcement) to believe them, nor to tell someone that knows them. They can get personal help, even if they aren't willing to take the stand in prosecuting the culprit.
But there is a percentage of Troops in the Military who report "unwanted sexual contact" in blind surveys. What does that mean? Well, for one person, it may be a hand on the shoulder from someone they suspect of wanting more, while for another it may be an "accidental" bump that they don't think was accidental, or for another an intentional placement of the hand on the butt or thigh. Quite frankly, the question is flawed and subjective. That extrapolated percentage is 4.4% of females and 0.9% of males. It is extrapolated, because they didn't ask everyone and then they used the percentages to suggest how many might have experienced it. "They" then surmised that more than 19,000 Troops (of more than 1.4 Million) had experienced an "unwanted sexual contact." From that, "they" suggested that "unwanted sexual contacts" were reported only 29% of the time.
That politician I mentioned? She turned that "unwanted sexual contact" into "sexual assault." Yeah, that's a LOT more dramatic. She also turned the statistics around. Instead of that representing 29% of reported "unwanted sexual contacts," it became 13% of reported "sexual assaults." The press (ABC) took her "statistics" as gospel, without reading the 622 page report for themselves. She is Rep Jackie Speier, D-CA. She got 44 co-sponsors (in 24 hours) for her bill based on the erroneous information, and introduced a new Non-Profit to profit off of the falsehoods. And that was reported on the 17th of November, i.e. last week.
Approximately 1/3rd of the reports were initiated within 3 days, an another 1/5th were reported within 1 month. About 1/5th of the cases included a forensic examinations were performed, including those that filed 111 'restricted reports.' This affects the capacity to prosecute cases because the least subjective evidence is the forensic evidence, and the greater the amount of time after the incident, the harder it is to prove. 37% of victims declined to participate in prosecution of the culprit, which further complicates the ability to put criminals behind bars. Without the testimony of the victim, which should not be compelled against her will but should compel every protection for her, prosecution may be impossible.
ONE sexual assault IS too many, but again we have to realize that the Military is a small slice from across the American population. The Military must (and does) prosecute and toss out those bad apples, but no test will 100% prevent them from slipping through the screening process. It does no good to inflate the numbers (aside from those that profit financially or politically from inflated numbers).
So, how do we "fix" this? First, by accurately reflecting the problem. Secondly, by ensuring the potential victims understand that Military Leaders won't tolerate the scumbags that do it. Thirdly, by ensuring that false accusations (as opposed to unsubstantiated cases) are prosecuted as well. I.e. by ensuring the actual criminals are punished severely and that the innocents are protected. The "innocents" being those falsely accused and those attacked. Persecutions of those unjustly accused simply adds to the disbelief against those that falsely portray their innocence. Future "juries" of one's peers should not be contaminated by the memory of someone they know to have been unjustly prosecuted. We have to rely on the evidence and facts, despite knowing that some of the guilty will go free.
And for the bad news. Ten percent of those unrestricted reports and 13% of those restricted reports were male victims. This is not the kind of thing the proponents of the repeal of DADT want to talk about. Why? Because that means there IS a problem, even in the military where homosexuality was not allowed, with homosexual sexual violence. It means there is a HUGE sexual violence problem in the sexual crimes of secretly homosexual community.
And here, I will go to the DoJ Rape Survey, because I can't find their hard facts. The DoJ finds, through contracted surveys that 1 in 1000 adult men, 92,748, are raped 1.2x annually, and that 90% of them are raped by men. It estimates there are 876,064 cases of females raped annually, or 8.7 rapes per 1000 women. That is ONLY rape, not the additional categories of sexual crimes reported by the Department of Defense.
And those numbers get considerably worse. The incidence of American children raped is far greater than the number of all reports of sexual misconduct in the Military. In fact a boy in grade school is more likely to be raped by a homosexual than is anyone in the Military likely to be party to a sexual misconduct in the military. According to information published by the Department of Justice, there are 20x as many boys in grade school raped by men than ALL incidents of sexual misconduct in the Military.
Out of approximately 9.3 million Homosexual Men in America, there are approximately 60,133 cases of males raping grade school boys, each year. ALL rape is despicable but the rape of children is far more despicable because the victim is robbed of innocence, is scarred for life, and is unable to defend themselves. I did not set out to highlight the incidence of homosexual sexual predators, nor did I expect to come across that information. It's not "politically correct" to mention such things. But not talking about it does not make it go away.
What else should be done? Well, one must also look at who are the victims and who are the perpetrators of the crimes. Overwhelmingly, these are lower ranks and younger individuals. Why is that pertinent? Well, because if we are to accurately gauge the difference between military and civilian assaults we must know what age group we are comparing, on both sides of the coin.
And with the majority of sexual assaults in the military occurring among those under 26, the closest data we have is sexual assaults on College Campuses. According to some estimates, the rate of rape at College is between 20% and 25% of all female students. And, one in 12 male college students admitted activity that met legal definitions of rape. In comparison, Our Troops are boy scouts, even if one were to believe the worst case "estimates."
What else can we do to prevent the problem? Instruct ALL women in self-defense and situational awareness. It is NEVER the fault of the victim, even if she's walking naked through a drug infested ghetto, and even if she's known for promiscuity, but knowing what NOT to do, knowing what to do, can mean she's never in the situation. It is always the criminal's fault for the crimes he commits, but if we empower women to exact pain on the perpetrator, fewer cases will exist for prosecution.
I am under no illusion that sexual assault will ever be 100% reported or 100% eliminated, whether in or out of the Military. It should never be condoned or covered up. There will always be a few cases of false allegations and there must always be a presumption of innocence. But when we catch a sexual predator, we must investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot force victims to relive the crime, and must protect them to the extent legally possible, but that protection must include the encouragement to put the criminal behind bars for the longest possible time, to prevent the possibility of other victims. And because even one attack is too many, we should not attempt to falsify the numbers for political or financial purposes.
It appears that in 2010 there were approximately 884 allegations of rape in the military and if the 29% report rate is close to being right, approximately 3,050 total rapes, in a population of 1.65 Million, or an incident rate of less than 1.85 per 1000, which is far less than the civilian population, and extremely less than the college population (250 per 1000), which is the closest comparison in demographics.
If there is one thing that the US Military should be good at, it is defining the terms used, but they always seem to throw in a catchall, general term on top of an otherwise specific definition. Some of the definitions they include are:
For the purpose of this Directive and SAPR awareness training and education, the term ‘sexual assault’ is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy (oral or anal sex), and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive, or wrongful (to include unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact), or attempts to commit these acts.
Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 6495.01, is current as of October 6, 2005.
‘Consent’ means words or overt acts indicating a freely given Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 6495.02, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program
"Restricted Reporting:" Allows a Service member to report or disclose to specified officials that he orshe has been the victim of a sexual assault. This reporting option gives the member access to medical care, counseling, and victim advocacy, without requiring those specific officials to automatically report the matter to law enforcement or initiate an official investigation.
DoDD 6495.01. Washington, DC: DoD. E2.1.10 *Note: Victims in California cannot submit to a forensic examination while maintaining victim confidentiality. In all other areas of the military, victims of rape can submit to a forensic examination with confidentiality. In such cases, the evidence is maintained for 11 months, before the victim must decide to unrestrict the report, for purposes of prosecution, or allow the evidence to be destroyed at the 1 year mark. This affects victims in Arizona as well, since the treatment center is in California.
DoDD 6495.01 defines Unrestricted Reporting as: A Service member who is sexually assaulted and desires medical treatment, counseling, and an official investigation of his or her allegation should use existing reporting channels (e.g., chain of command, law enforcement, or report the incident to the SARC). When notified of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a [SAPR] VA. Additionally, at the victim’s discretion or request, the healthcare provider shall arrange a SAFE (forensic examination) to be conducted, which may include the collection of evidence. Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know.
Rape was defined as an event that occurred without the victim’s consent, that involved the use or threat of force to penetrate the victim’s vagina or anus by penis, tongue, fingers, or object, or the victim’s mouth by penis. The definition included both attempted and completed rape.
Department of Justice.