To hear some people (politicians in particular) talk, the military is rampant with sexual predators, protected by their Commanders. Numbers are thrown around about tens of thousands of victims and stories are told about victims too afraid to report the crimes. "One rape is too many," is not only a true statement, but also an unobtainable goal.
A number of the current crop of politicians are pushing to remove Commanders from a role in the prosecution of sexual predators within their ranks. To understand why that would be a terrible error, one must understand the role of NCO's and Commanders in the military. Military leaders are not just bosses and managers. They are not merely responsible for what happens at work. NCO's and Commanders instill discipline, enforce the difference of right and wrong, and in a very real sense are involved in every aspect of the lives of their Soldiers.
Commanders have authority to punish Troops, by taking time and pay and rank, for infractions as small as showing up a minute late to work. A Commander must not only lead, but also command. He must not only instill the confidence in his leadership to the point that his Troops will rush a machine gun nest when ordered, but be fair in punishments, promotions, and recognition of deeds, good and bad. Criminal behavior within his unit must be squashed.
My confidence that I can relate the role of a Commander in words, at the moment, and reasonably briefly, is weak. There is no civilian equivalent.
In my time in the military, I had good Commanders and bad, but not once did I have a Commander that I believed would protect a sexual predator. I had some that condoned or participated in the "reallocation of Army assets" from other units, but all condemned thievery within their own. And none demonstrated any tolerance for unlawfully taking assets that did not belong to the Military.
So, what are the facts concerning sex crimes in the Military? The fact is that rape and "wrongful sexual conduct" do occur, but that the incidence rate is no where near what the media hype insinuates, or even what they report. The media and politicians lump rape in with unwanted advances, call it all sexual assault. Then, they estimate that because there were 3,374 reports of sexual misconduct, there must be 26,000 total victims.
There were 140 allegations of rape (676 DoD wide including Reserves) reported involving an Army Soldier in 2012, out of a population of roughly 700,000 (Report includes Army Reserves and Title 10 National Guard Soldiers).
That's an incident rate of roughly 20 per 100,000, compared with Chicago's Criminal Sexual Assault rate of 50.4/100,000 in 2009. In 2010, there were 57,098 Forcible Rapes reported by the FBI in it's Uniformed Crime Report (not including Chicago) for cities covering a total population of 196,260,987 city dwellers, for an incident rate of 29 per 100,000. In short, there are 1/3rd fewer rapes reported in the Army than in the civilian population from which it comes. Sources: Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal Year 2012, FBI Uniform Crime Report by State by City, 2010, State of Illinois Total Crime, 2005-2009.
This morning, I heard a politician state there were 26,000 incidents of sexual assault last year. Flat out, that is a made up number. The military documents every single report. There were a total of 3,374 allegations of sexual misconduct (including the 676 allegations of rape) made in FY 2012. Of those, 2,949 were reported to Military Authorities by Military victims. Volume 1 of the 2012 Report is 729 pages long, primarily because it includes a spreadsheet on each report, along with non-personal information on the defendants and victims, and disposition of each case, as well as breaking down the statistics in nearly every manner they can think of, including time of day, day of week, and age, rank, and sex of victims and perpetuators.
So, why is there such a large gap between politicians and actual reports? Well, someone comes along and decides that a certain percentage of victims report "unwanted sexual contact," and then multiplies the number of reports by the number of potential victims in the military. Some years they say it is 6% and sometimes they say it is 14% reported. But the report includes not only the 140 rapes in the Army, but every report of any type of sexual misconduct, and it is listed by politicians and media as "sexual assaults."
I will concentrate on the Army reports, because it's the biggest branch, with the highest reporting rate. The Army takes every report seriously. It makes sure that every Soldier knows that every report will be documented and investigated, unless the victim wants to keep it out of view.
The Army closed (unrestricted report) cases (page 185 involving 1320 Military victims and 1406 investigations in FY 2012 (Oct11 to Sep12). Of those allegations by 817 Military victims and against 749 Military defendents were substantiated. While many of these cases were from prior years, every case reported is investigated. Of the cases initiated in FY12, 783 of the victim's cases and 665 of the defendent's cases were also opened in FY12. There were only 379 cases pending as of year's end. There were 460 pre-FY12 investigations closed in FY12, with 62 cases from pre-FY12 pending. Of the cases closed, 206 of the victims were male and only 35 of the defendants were female.
There were also 227 "restricted reports" filed, of which 53 were later converted to unrestricted reports. And "Restricted Reports" are an important part of the victim advocacy of the military. It allows the victim to file a report, get needed help, and have evidence collected, without any of the information going to the command. Everything remains completely confidential, unless and until, the victim decides otherwise. If the victim is making an allegation against a member of the Chain of Command, or doesn't know who the perpetuator was, or simply fears retaliation, this is a method to get help and initiate the process of evidence. Thirteen of the restricted reports were by Soldiers who were reporting a pre-Military incident. Additionally 3 unrestricted reports were pre-military incidents. Thirty-four of the cases did not involve a Soldier at all (victim or defendant).
An "Unrestricted Report" is necessary to actually prosecute. If a victim decides to "unrestrict" a previously restricted report, the Chain of Command is notified, actions are taken to protect the victim, and the case moves forward, based on the evidence previously collected and restricted. Only California makes it illegal for a victim to make a restricted report.
Of the unrestricted reports, 204 involved an unknown or civilian perpetuator against a Military victim. A third of all cases occured off-post. Making collection of evidence more difficult, nearly 2/3rds were not reported within 3 days and 101 reports were made more than a year following the alleged incident. There were 245 reports made in FY12, of incidents that allegedly occured prior to that year.
Of the completed investigations, 772 of 941 defendants were in the Military while 142 were outside of military jurisdiction. Seventy were not prosecuted due to a lack of evidence or because the victim declined to participate in the prosecution. Four hundred ten were punished by the command, including 228 Courts Martial, while 107 had cases pending as of the report. In all, 203 "victims" were found to have filed "unfounded" allegations, 80% of which were filed by soldiers.
Of 424 Courts Martial, 134 cases were not yet completed, 57 cases were dismissed (with 13 defendants getting punished by their commander anyway), 57 defendants were put out of the military in lieu of a court-martial, 36 were acquitted and 153 were convicted. Outside of courts-martial 117 were punished directly by their Commanders (UCMJ). Another 60 were thrown out of the military and 57 received other Administrative Actions. Additionally 92 defendants investigated for a sexual offense were punished for another reason, or discharged for another reason.
Case 1 through 36(Army) were for "Abusive Sexual Contact." Case 36 on page 213 involved a male and female PFC (E3). She alleged that he touched her buttocks with a wooden stick. He was reduced to PVT/E1, fined $745 for two months ($1490 total) and given 45 days restriction and 45 days extra duty.
Case 47 through 275 in the Army were for "Aggravated Sexual Assault" in the Army. Case 275 is on page 230 of the report. It involved a male and a female SGT(E5). She alleged that he forced her to perform oral sex on a flight from Kuwait. Though there was insufficient evidence to prosecute on aggravated sexual assault, he was reduced to SPC(E4) for "indecent acts."
Case 44 and 282 through 336 was the charge of "Aggravated Sexual Contact." Case 336 on page 234 is the last of those charges. It involved an Army E3 male and a civilian female. She alleged that after consensual sexual foreplay she passed out from alcohol and woke up with him licking her anus. Though there was insufficient evidence to support charges of sexual assault, his Commander charged him with indecent acts/adultery, reduced him to E1, "fined" him $745 for 2 months (total $1490), restricted him to post (or the barracks) for 45 days, and gave him extra duty for 45 days.
Case 337 through 390 were for "Forcible Sodomy." Case 337 on page 235 involves a male Major (O4) and his civilian girlfriend. She alleged that he committed sodomy, assault, and patronizing a prostitute. She then wrote a letter asking the military not to prosecute him, and refused to participate in the Civilian prosecution. He received a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, effectively ending his military career.
Case 390 involved a male SGT (E5) and multiple females who alleged that the defendent and a friend forced them to perform oral sex at a barracks room party. Despite a lack of evidence to prosecute the charge, he was punished for "indecent acts," reduced to E1, "fined" $1131 for two months (total $2262), and given 45 days restriction and 45 day extra duty. Case 587 appears to be the same case, with a different victim, and a charge of rape.
Case 391 was an allegation of indecent assault occuring prior to 2008 in Iraq.
Case 392 through 587 are allegations of rape. Case 392 involves a male E4 and multiple females, overseas. She alleges that she went to a party with the defendent, got drunk, blacked out, and awoke naked, with him using a sex toy to penetrate her. He was being tried at a General Court Martial at the time of the report (docket 20 December 2012).
Case 588 and 589 are allegations of "Sexual Assault." Case 588 involves a male PFC (E3) and female PVT (E2). She alleges that while engaging in consensual sex, she told him to stop, and he didn't. He is being court-martialed.
Cases 590 through 862 are allegations of "Wrongful Sexual Contact." Case 590 involved a male SGT (E5) and female civilian. She alleges that after she got drunk and passed out, she woke up to him rubbing her inner thigh. He was convicted, sentenced to 120 day confinement, reduction to E1, total forfeiture of pay, and given a Bad Conduct Discharge.
Case 862 involves a male SSG (E6) and a civilian female. She alleged that while standing in line at Oktoberfest (Germany), he touched her breasts and buttocks. She refused to testify. He received a Letter of Reprimand, effectively ending his career.
I have listed either the first or last case of its type in the report, to illustrate a non-cherry picked example of the charges. After reading through the cases, I would ask, how many of these cases would have had ANY civilian repercussions? If, for example, a man at a party or bar were to touch a woman's butt, would she report it? To whom? And what would be the repercussions? I'm not saying it's a correct course of action, but I am pointing out that the military takes very serious these allegations, and does punish those who do these things, even in an off-post bar or party, even off-duty. Just the allegation can end a career, even when guilt is not proven.
Of the 3,374 reports, the majority are examples of how serious the Military takes offenses that would not be reported in the civilian world.