DOD submits its progress report to the President on sexual assault in the military

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DOD submits its progress report to the President on sexual assault in the military

by: Cpl. Lisette Leyva | .
HQ Marine Corps | .
published: December 05, 2014

WASHINGTON -- The Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted a sexual assault prevention and response progress report to President Barack Obama, Dec. 2, 2014. The report’s intent is to demonstrate progress across five primary lines of effort: prevention, investigation, accountability, victim advocacy/assistance and assessment.

The progress report includes preliminary results of the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, which estimates sexual assault prevalence rates for the Department of Defense.

The report shows service members experienced fewer sexual assaults in fiscal year 2014 than in fiscal year 2012 – an estimated 19,000, down from 26,000. In addition, the number of victims choosing to report these crimes has increased by more than 50 percent.

Specific to the Marine Corps, the prevalence of unwanted sexual contact decreased by 30 percent, from approximately 3,300 in FY12 to approximately 2,300 in FY14. Along with the decrease in prevalence, the amount of in-service unwanted sexual contact not being reported, or the reporting gap, has decreased from 90 percent in FY12 to 79 percent in FY14. Closing the reporting gap is essential to tackling the problem and providing supportive services to victims.

The Marine Corps, which is the youngest and most junior service — with 63 percent of all Marines aged 25 or younger and 42 percent in the rank of lance corporal or below (the most at-risk demographic to experience a sexual assault) — has the highest sexual assault prevalence rate among the services.  In recognition of the make-up of the Marine Corps, we have been targeting our training for this demographic.
“Accounting for the unique demographics of the Marine Corps' young population and the correlating statistics compared to the other services, requires specific, focused prevention training for the junior Marine population,” said Col. Scott Jensen, Headquarters Marine Corps SAPR branch head. “The Step Up training program, instituted in June 2014, provides such tailored training, along with Whole of Character training for DEP enlistees, enhanced SAPR training for recruits at the depots, and mandatory Take a Stand training for all newly-promoted NCOs, who directly oversee junior Marines.”

The Marine Corps’ input to DOD’s report provides a summary of all Marine Corps SAPR initiatives since December 2011, such as establishment of a SAPR training continuum, the legal community reorganization and creation of the Victims Legal Counsel Organization, and SAPR personnel credentialing.

This SAPR progress report does not replace the DOD’s annual report on SAPR, which provides an in-depth analysis of reported sexual assaults and is expected to be released in April 2015.

Along with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recently announced directives [link to directives] to improve SAPR programs, the Marine Corps will continue to attack sexual assault in its ranks through engaged leadership, effective deterrence, empowered reporting, zero tolerance and accountability.

“The number of sexual assaults in the Marine Corps, while trending downward, is unacceptable,” Jensen said. “The Corps owes to each Marine not just world-class victim services and appropriate accountability for their offenders, but most important, to enact programs that will lead to the prevention of this crime happening—this remains the enduring principle of all our SAPR efforts.”

In spring 2015, RAND will provide its final analysis of the data and contextualize its finding.

To view DOD’s progress report to the President on sexual assault in the military, including detailed input from the Marine Corps, visit