The Pentagon will report a disturbingly high numbers of sexual assault cases on Tuesday during its presentation to Congress.
According to U.S. and congressional officials, the Pentagon will report that sexual assault crimes have gone up a drastic 37 percent from last year alone.
In 2012, 3,374 cases were reported to superiors in the military, which is up from the 3,192 in 2011. So far, this is the highest number of reported cases from the Pentagon since they began submitting annual sexual assault reports to Congress in 2004.
The biggest shock, however, is the Pentagon’s estimate that well over 80 percent of sexual assault cases in the military go unreported, which would put the number of total sexual assault incidents around 26,000.
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This is a massive increase from 2010, when the Pentagon estimated there were a total of 19,000 sexual assault incidents. The estimate is based off of anonymous surveys of service members.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will make a formal statement when he releases the report to Congress Tuesday afternoon.
These numbers are a strong indication of a growing problem within the military culture.
The concern has also been fueled by sexual misconduct charges against over two dozen basic training instructors at Lackland Air Base, as well as an Air Force commander’s overturn of a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case during a post-trial review.
This week also saw an Air Force chief of sexual assault prevention was charged for sexual battery.
“We have learned of an increase in the amount of service members experiencing unwanted sexual contact and a decrease in the rate that those incidents are reported,” Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “[That is] the exact opposite direction of what would indicate a cultural and statistical shift on a problem that effects mission readiness and overall morale of our forces.”
According to a Monday statement from Pentagon press secretary George Little, Hagel has “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.” In order to address these crimes, Hagel has suggested changes to the military judicial code that would take away commanders’ abilities to overturn guilty verdicts.