The latest report on military sexual assault from the Department of Defense shows a sharp increase in assaults from previous years. For fiscal 2011, the military estimated there were 19,000 cases of sexual assault, while 3,192 cases were reported. In fiscal 2012, the estimate spiked to 26,000 cases, with just 3,374 cases reported. The estimates are based on surveys given by the DoD to military service members.
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, introduced legislation that they say would better protect service members who have been assaulted from intimidation and systemic challenges.
In introducing the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013 on the Senate floor, Murray recalled one Washington National Guard soldier’s experience when she chose to report an assault.
"After being assaulted during her monthly drill on a military base, she took all the necessary steps, including calling the sexual assault response coordinator," Murray said. "But she was told because the assault happened during monthly drill and not on active duty, the sexual assault response coordinator could not help her."
Murray says her new bill would ensure that doesn’t happen. If passed, the bill would require advocates to be available at all times for sexual assault victims in the National Guard and Reserve. She says it would also require that sexual assault cases be referred to the next level of authority for court marital if there’s a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
The annual report from the DoD comes on the heels of the high profile arrest of the Air Force’s chief of sexual assault prevention and response branch.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski was arrested this week on a charge of sexual battery in Arlington, Virginia. County police say 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman's breast and buttocks. Police say the woman fought him off and called police. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.
Related stories: KUOW Patricia Murphy reports, "Less Than Honorable: Sexual Assault in the US Military"