Gillibrand accuses military of under-reporting sexual assault crimes

May 5, 2015

A report released by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) finds a large number of military spouses and civilians living near military bases have reported being a victim of sexual assault. Surveys conducted by the Defense Department only document sexual assaults among service members. Gillibrand, a member of the armed services committee, says those numbers are misleading.

Gillibrand analyzed over 100 sexual assault cases filed in 2013 from the country’s largest military bases. She says her report shows evidence that sexual assaults committed by members of the military are underreported.

“To see the most recent 100 cases of the four major bases reflect that more than half of the assaults are of civilians and spouses, obviously raised a very big red flag,” Gillibrand said. 

Gillibrand  found close to half of these individuals dropped their sexual assault cases before investigations were complete.  Only 10 percent of the cases that did go to trail resulted in a conviction, jail time and dishonorable discharge. Gillibrand said these kind of numbers prove that the military justice system needs reform.

“So until you see perpetrators going to jail doing real jail time and seeing the consequences of this violent crime you aren’t going to see the kind of cultural change and perception on behalf of survivors that justice is possible,” Gillibrand said.

According to the most recent estimates, 20,000 cases of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact were reported last year.