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  • In 85 percent of cases, victims were acquainted with their attackers who were, more often than not, a superior officer.

    In 85 percent of cases, victims were acquainted with their attackers who were, more often than not, a superior officer. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 May 2019

An estimated 20,500 male and female service members experienced some kind of sexual assault in 2018, the survey said.

Despite promises from the Pentagon, sexual assaults have reportedly increased in the military, climbing to nearly 40 percent in 2018, the U.S. Defense Department said Thursday.

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Some 6,053 sexual assault cases were reported last year, according to an anonymous, bi-annual survey, the Pentagon confirmed.

Taking into consideration unreported cases as well, the military survey estimated 20,500 male and female service members experienced some kind of sexual assault last year.

In the Marines corp, they "historically viewed an increase in reporting as an indicator Marines feel more empowered to report, more confident in the care victims receive," the military group admitted in a statement Thursday.

"However, with the number of estimated assaults rising, especially among our young Marines, the Marine Corps must evolve its prevention methods and continue to foster a climate and culture of dignity, respect and trust," the statement said.

According to the survey, in 85 percent of cases, victims were acquainted with their attackers who were, more often than not, a superior officer.

Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director of the Department' of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, told ABC News, “This is what tells us that there's something going on that we need to hone in on.”

"We've got a higher prevalence for women 17 to 24. We're going to be focusing very, very tightly on that."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic presidential candidate who has been an advocate for overhauling rules for prosecution of sex crimes in the U.S. military, said the report made clear that it was time for Congress to act.

“Sexual assaults continue to increase dramatically while the number of cases going to trial goes down,” she said. “The status quo is not working.”

The estimated number in 2016 was 14,900, while in 2006, only one in 14 victims reported sexual assault crimes as compared to 2018 with one third of victims filing police reports.

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