CAMP PENDLETON — Camp Pendleton had the seventh-highest number of sexual assault allegation reports, 624, made at U.S. military bases over a four-year span, according to a recently released Pentagon analysis.
“Sexual Assault Reports by Installation,” issued in November by the Department of Defense, gathered data about adult sexual assault reports made at U.S. military installations worldwide from October 2012 to September 2016.
This is the first time the Pentagon has made available sexual assault information broken down by installation, officials said.
The data includes reports of alleged sexual assaults that happened on base, off base, or prior to enlistment or commission. In general, bases with a higher number of service personnel had a higher number of reports.
Department officials say the analysis is meant to improve awareness and thus increase reporting of sexual assaults and decrease occurrence of the crime, said Nate Galbreath, deputy director at the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
The Pentagon defines sexual assault as “a range of sex-related crimes punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Galbreath said.
The publication of “Sexual Assault Reports by Installation” follows Freedom of Information Act requests from the media and others related to sexual assault in the military.
The highest number of reports came from Army installations with 8,294. The Army has the highest number of service members with 476,243 as of September. Next was the Navy, with 4,788; then the Air Force, with 3,876; and lastly the Marine Corps, with 3,400. The Marine Corps has the lowest number of service members with 184,401.
Camp Pendleton, currently with about 42,000 active duty service members, had 164 allegations of sexual assault from October 2012 to September 2013; 134 from October 2013 to September 2014; 169 from October 2014 to September 2015; and 157 from October 2015 to September 2016, according to the report.
Naval Base San Diego ranked fifth with 642 reports. The base is the largest Navy base in the region and has about 24,000 active service members.
Data shows that the U.S. Navy’s largest base, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, reported the most sexual assault allegations with 1,055 over the study period. The base has more than 80,000 active duty service members and is home port for most of the Navy’s ships on the East Coast.
Carl Redding, a Camp Pendleton spokesman, cautioned against comparing installations of different sizes.
“To simply say the highest number without the relevant context will be just part of the story,” he said. “No definitive statement can be made about a crime rate at a given installation based on the reporting data.”
Service members who are new to the military receive briefings about the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response program within their first few months of duty, Redding said. As a result, some of these individuals may decide to make a report after learning about the assistance options available to them.
“The program serves as the focal point for coordinating all sexual assault prevention and response actions at Camp Pendleton,” he said. “The program’s mission is two-fold: to address the needs of military members, their spouses, and adult dependents that have been victims of sexual assault and to proactively provide relevant, interactive training on a regular, continuous basis to all Marines and sailors aboard Camp Pendleton in an effort to eliminate sexual assault.”
Marine Corps officials say they support all men and women reporting sexual assault so victims can receive the help they need and offenders are held accountable.
“As a result, the recently released report reflects a variety of allegations,” said Major Garron Garn, a spokesman for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon. “The Marine Corps is continuing to review the data and identify installation and community risk factors for sexual assault and develop associated actions leadership can take to mitigate sexual violence.”
Since 2005, the Department of Defense has encouraged service members to report sexual assault regardless of where incidents occurred.
Before 2014, fewer than 15 percent of military victims reported sexual assault to a military authority, Galbreath said. For 2015, the department estimates that nearly 25 percent of service members who experienced a sexual assault reported the incident to either the SAPR program or military law enforcement. In 2016, the department estimates, about 32 percent of service members who experienced a sexual assault reported the incident.
“Reports only tell part of the story,” Galbreath said. “To understand how often sexual assaults occur, our department relies on confidential surveys of its active duty force. This is because sexual assault is rarely reported in both military and civilian sectors.”
In the surveys, Galbreath said, it was found that the prevalence rate of sexual assault of women was highest in the Marine Corps, and of men, in the Navy. The Air Force had the lowest prevalence rate for both women and men.
Congress requires the Pentagon to report the number of sexual assault allegations in an annual report released each May. Since 2012, those reports have shown declines in the prevalence rates of sexual assault among the force, Galbreath said.
Anyone in the military community seeking help for sexual assault can call 877-995-5247.
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