Report: More Than 70 Military Sexual Assaults Per Day

A new report on sexual assault in the military seems to suggest that it’s something of an epidemic:

Sexual assaults occurred at an average of more than 70 per day in the United States military during fiscal year 2012, according to an annual report being released Tuesday by the Department of Defense.

Reports of sexual assault in the military rose during October 2011 through September 2012 by 6 percent from the prior year, with a total of about 26,000 service members experiencing unwanted sexual contact. Nearly 7,000 more service members reported unwanted sexual contact than in the year prior, when about 19,300 members of the military reported inappropriate sexual contact.


Of the unrestricted reports of sexual assault in fiscal year 2012, 35 percent were for abusive and wrongful sexual contact, 28 percent were for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault and 27 percent were for rape.

Little went on to emphasize the Pentagon’s “zero tolerance” policy for sexual assault. According to Tuesday’s report, of 1,714 service member subjects — or reported perpetrators — action was taken on 1,124, 66 percent. This includes 594 cases in which the military initiated court martial proceedings, barely more than the 590 cases in which it was determined that command action was not possible or was declined altogether. For 388 of these, the DOD found “insufficient evidence of a crime to prosecute or unfounded.” For 196 cases, “victims declined to participate in justice system.”

Only 3,374 cases of 26,000 estimated sexual assaults were reported — a reporting rate of just under 13 percent. Of the victims who did report an assault, Turner noted, some 62 percent felt they were revictimized or retaliated against for reporting their assault.

“When you have a culture that tries to hide the crime, it absolutely encourages it,” he said.

Clearly, this is completely unacceptable, and the fact that it happens to coincide with news of the arrest, on sexual assault charges, of the officer supposed to be in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault task force just makes it all the more embarrassing for the Pentagon.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Clearly having heterosexuals in the military is a drain on unit preparedness and morale. We never should have let them serve openly.

  2. JKB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You are assuming that the report only covers opposite-sex unwanted sexual contact. With the repeal of DADT, there is no real barrier to reporting homosexual sexual harassment and assaults. In fact, it would be encouraged to show equality of treatment.

    Anecdotally, prior to the repeal of DADT, many heterosexual women in the military reported quite aggressive eyeing and other unwanted contact by other women in the showers. Now, since they aren’t opening up the whole accusing someone of being gay in the military, they can report the behavior.

  3. PJ says:


    Anecdotally, prior to the repeal of DADT, many heterosexual women in the military reported quite aggressive eyeing and other unwanted contact by other women in the showers.

    Now, now, don’t confuse your fantasies with reality.

  4. fred says:

    Amazing stats for supposedly America’s finest. It appears that after 9/11 there is some kind of belief in the military (and remember they are all volunteers) that upon discharge they must apply for disability, no matter what. That is why there is such a VA backlog and these payments which prior to 9/11 were strictly based on mostly war injuries now cover so many types of trauma that our country will be broke just paying the monthly fees. Someone in government has to point out that all these volunteers in the military knew what they were getting into prior to signing up and it is not automatic to get disability payments after discharge. Where is such a person in our politics or military? Folks work in many hazardous jobs in civilian life too and don’t expect to get any disability payments simply because they served for a number of years.

  5. Mike says:

    I can say from experience that the DoD goes to courtmartial in sex cases that no DA or AUSA would touch in a million years and in many cases loses. Bad cases go to trial. Sex assault cases are the hardest cases to prosecute and the easiest to defend b/c there are typically two witnesses – the alleged victim and the defendant/accused. The AF Lt Col that was just arrested had better pray Arlington prosecutes him (really the AF and Arlington could both prosecute him at the same time since one is state and one is the Fed) because if the AF prosecutes him, he will do time whereas he would likely get pre-trial diversion or be able to plead it out with the state.

  6. JKB says:


    You have exhibited complete ignorance of the topic. Please try again.

    Military members are assessed by the VA for long term injuries and disabilities incurred while on active duty. Not to much to give to someone who can be imprisoned for refusing to do something dangerous or go into harms way even outside a war zone.

    But it is just like a civilian can apply for workers comp. when injured on the job or occupational disease. Difference is, the military member is on duty 24/7. In any case, unless seriously disabled, payments aren’t received, although some retired pay may be tax-exempt. Although it could appear to be payments since the pot of money the pay comes out of moves to the VA from the retired funds.

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Of the victims who did report an assault, Turner noted, some 62 percent felt they were revictimized or retaliated against for reporting their assault.

    This is just so outrageously unacceptable.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Tom Ricks’s latest book, The Generals, makes a pretty compelling case that we have serious leadership problems in the military. This is the kind of problem that starts at the top, in a military that refuses absolutely to hold general officers responsible. This fish rots from the head.

  9. RGardner says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Tom Ricks latest book is a load of BS, serving up to the NYT crowd what they already know (and 40 years ago no one they knew voted for Nixon). There are certainly problems in the General/Admiral ranks, and how they are selected, but you are arm chair quarterbacking the process without having even watched the games.

    Do you know any current flag officers? Have you ever known any actively serving flag officers? Not guys 20 years retired (or the disgusting USAF dude, conspiracy theory central). Have you even ever met a flag officer? And if something happens in one service, it does not mean similar in other services .
    (Personally answering question above as to current generals/admirals, I know a 3-star, 3 2-stars, and 3 1-stars – and I’d consider one a close personal friend in the past)

    (I’m sorry Michael Reynolds is the subject of my ire tonight, I agree with him more often than not because I’m not a supposed right wing evangelist, I’m a libertarian realist)

  10. @RGardner: Because so many heads have rolled over stuff like this.

  11. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @michael reynolds: Accountability is missing from more than just the armed services, too. The wink and nod to torture means anything even slightly less awful is now ready for rapid deployment against free citizens should any one of them so much as farts in the wrong key.

  12. wr says:

    @RGardner: “(and 40 years ago no one they knew voted for Nixon). ”

    If you ever wonder why no one bothers to listen to you, it’s probably because you say things like this that are desperately trying to sound knowing but just mark you as a moron.

    No one at the NY Times has ever been quoted as saying anything remotely like this.

    What you are referring to is a most-likely apocryphal quote from a writer at The New Yorker magazine, who, it is claimed, said that she couldn’t believe Nixon won because no one she knew had voted for him.

    That writer, by the way, was the magazine’s movie critic.

    In other words, a quote that, even if real, was uttered by someone from a magazine that has never pretended not to be liberally oriented… who was never involved in political writing at all.

    Odds are you have no idea who said these words. You’ve just seen repeated on right wing sites the notion that everyone at the NY Times thought Nixon would lose because none of them knew anyone who voted for him.

    And then you breezily toss it off, as if it demonstrates your tremendous knowledge of political history. Little knowing that yes, it does.

  13. Luke Easter says:

    President Obama Calls Jason Collins

    President Obama calls Jason Collins expressing gratitude for, “coming out”,
    But, did he ever call the parents whose daughter was punched in the mouth?
    From a savage assault on an Army Base serving her country in war torn Iraq,
    Michelle Obama made a comment to Collins, why not have LaVena’s back?

    Army PFC LeVena Lynn Johnson is brutally murdered DOJ ruled it a suicide,
    Cause of death, shot from a rifle too long for her to pull the trigger. Homicide!
    Did her parents receive condolences from President Obama, not on your life,
    And yet Barack said that, “he was impressed by his courage” likewise his wife.

    Obviously, courage is not the word for LeVena as she fought hard to her death,
    She was bewildered, confused, an enemy from within, depriving her last breath,
    Ah ha, but LeVena has long been deceased so she can no longer vote, now I see,
    Obama voiced support for same sex marriage to assure himself a second victory.

    Collins, a 34 year-old journeyman, graduate of Stanford who plays in the NBA,
    Jason has every right to announce whatever preference he should choose to say,
    Backing him while in opposition to seek justice for LeVena, put in harms way,
    Tough to swallow, as her killers roam free from July 19, 2005 to this very day.

    Several politicians have applauded Collins’ decision and even ex-President Bill,
    Offered a statement exalting his courage, not calling the Johnson’s is a bitter pill,
    The powers that be offer praises in all forms congratulating those who come out,
    Service women who suffer untold sexual abuse, barely a whisper, never a shout.