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Pentagon: sexual assault at service academies still a problem

[JURIST] The US Defense Department Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Service Academies released its report [PDF text; press release] Thursday, announcing that, despite some progress, hostile attitudes and inappropriate treatment of women persist at the US Military Academy [official website] at West Point and the Naval Academy [official website] in Annapolis, Maryland. Congress established the panel in response to a 2003 Air Force Academy scandal in which victims of sexual assault and rape were punished for reporting the incidents. In surveys conducted earlier this year, over half of women responding and 11 percent of men said they had experienced some type of sexual harassment since entering the academies and the new study concludes that accusations of sexual misconduct are still only rarely prosecuted to the maximum extent possible. The task force recommended that service academies improve training of prospective officers with an increased emphasis on the value of women in the military. According to the panel, current training on sexual harassment and assault is inadequate and cadets and midshipmen are uninformed about how to obtain medical care, counseling and legal assistance. Some progress has been made though, as reforms under the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response [official website] program have since taken place throughout the military. The new system also provides for restricted reporting [DOD press release], allowing the victim to provide details of the attack and receive treatment and counseling without triggering an official investigation, and requires all military personnel to undergo training [official website] to prevent sexual assault. AP has more.

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