BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s a disturbing new Pentagon report that indicates sexual assault at three prestigious U.S. military academies spiked 50 percent in the past school year.
An anonymous survey showed that an estimated 747 cadets and midshipmen said that they were sexually assaulted in the last academic year, up from 507 three years ago.
The study also found that 50 percent of women and 16 percent of men enrolled at military, air force, and naval academies were sexually harassed.
Another 16 percent of women and 2 percent of men said that they were sexually assaulted.
“There is a cultural rot,” said California representative Jackie Speier. “It’s not just a few bad apples.”
Speier chairs the House subcommittee on military personnel.
“I think some heads have to roll,” said Speier. “If all of a sudden, these cadets are going to be kicked out and their families are going to be expected to pay $100,000 in tuition, maybe behavior will change.”
In 2016, WJZ had an exclusive interview with a naval academy graduate who said an upper-class midshipman sexually assaulted her in her dorm room in 2007.
“I was already asleep,” the cadet said. “I woke up being assaulted.”
She reported the sexual assault but the charges were later dismissed.
“Coming forward didn’t change anything,” she said. “reporting it didn’t change anything.”
Nationwide, nearly 750 cadets and midshipmen said they were sexually assaulted last year but only 92 formally reported it.
“Accountability is the missing element in all of this,” said military attorney Don Christensen.
Christensen, a retired colonel and military attorney, said that just four people accused of sexual assault at the academies last year were convicted.
“Each one of the academies has a three star who oversees it,” said Christensen. “They’re literally the only person who can prosecute the case. They simply do not send enough people to court.”
The Pentagon said that the report doesn’t reflect the impact of prevention programs implemented last year.