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Military children sexually abused many times each year: AP

4 January 2016 12:08


Official data by the US Department of Defense show the children of service members are sexually assaulted hundreds of times each year, according to an AP report.

There were at least 1,584 substantiated cases of military dependents being sexually abused between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, according to the data. Enlisted service members sexually abused children in 840 cases. Family members of the victims accounted for the second largest category with 332 cases.

The abuse of military dependents is committed most often by male enlisted troops, according to the data provided exclusively to the Associated Press.

Most of the enlisted offenders were males whose ranks ranged between E-4 and E-6. In the Marine Corps and Army, for example, those troops are corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants. Officers were involved in 49 of the cases. The victims were overwhelmingly female.

More than 61 percent of the cases involved parents sexually abusing their own children.

With more than one million military dependents, it is unclear if the figures can offer a full picture.

The ages of the offenders and victims, the locations of the incidents and the branch of service that received the report of sexual abuse were omitted from the data.

The Defense Department said in a statement that “information that could unintentionally uniquely identify victims was withheld from release to eliminate possible ‘re-victimization’ of the innocent.”

It is also unclear how many of the incidents resulted in legal action. The cases represent substantiated occurrences of child sexual abuse reported to the Defense Department’s Family Advocacy Program, which does not track judicial proceedings, the department said.

An AP investigation published in November found more inmates are in military prisons for child sex crimes than for any other offense. But the military’s opaque justice system keeps the public from knowing the full extent of their crimes or how much time they spend behind bars.

Responding to the data, three Democratic senators have urged Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to lift what they called the military justice system’s “cloak of secrecy” and make records from sex-crimes trials readily accessible.

The senators also raised another concern. Child sex assault cases are not included in the Defense Department’s annual report to Congress on sexual assaults, which focuses primarily on adult-on-adult incidents, they said.

The senators – Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii – told Carter in a December 8 letter they are concerned the department may be underestimating how many sexual assaults are occurring in the military.

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