AP: Sexual assault reports doubled at West Point


WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of sexual assaults reported at the U.S. Military Academy roughly doubled during the last school year, according to data reviewed by The Associated Press, in the latest example of the armed forces' persistent struggle to root out such misbehavior.

It's the fourth year in a row that sexual assault reports increased at the school in West Point, N.Y. There were 50 cases in the school year that ended last summer, compared with 26 made during the 2015-2016 school year. By comparison, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., saw only slight increases.

Defense Department and West Point officials said the big jump at the Military Academy resulted from a concerted effort to encourage victims to come forward. But the dramatic and consistent increases may suggest more assaults are happening.

"I'm very encouraged by the reporting," Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, told the AP in an interview. "I recognize that people are not going to understand" the desire for increased reporting, he said. But, he added, "I've got the steel stomach to take the criticism."

The annual report on sexual assaults at the three military academies is due out this month. The Naval Academy's reports increased to 29 last year from 28. The Air Force Academy's edged up by one, to 33.

About 12,000 students are enrolled across all three institutions. The AP reviewed the data ahead of its public release.

The report highlights persistent problems within the Air Force Academy's sexual assault prevention office that emerged late last year. Staffing and management issues led to sweeping disciplinary actions, the resignation of the director and an office restructuring.

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