Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight




Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for
Congressional Oversight

Updated February 26, 2021
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
R44944


Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

Summary
The rate of sexual assault in the military has garnered significant attention over the past decade
from policymakers. While there have been several efforts to improve prevention, response, and
accountability for sex-related offenses within the Department of Defense (DOD), there has not
been a concomitant decrease in either estimated prevalence or sex-assault reports among military
servicemembers. In addition, there is some evidence that a majority of sexual offenses are not
being reported, as estimated prevalence of sexual assault from survey data consistently exceeds
the number of incidents that are reported. DOD encourages sexual assault reporting for two
reasons, 1) to allow victims to get access to support services (e.g., legal, medical, and health
counseling), and 2) to hold perpetrators accountable through the military justice system.
Congress has the Constitutional authority to enact military criminal law applicable to members of
the Armed Forces. Congress has determined that sexual assault is a criminal act under the
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in Title 10 of the United States Code. Since 2004,
Congress has enacted over 100 provisions intended to address different aspects of the problem as
part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and as stand-alone legislation
affecting veterans and civilians. In addition, DOD and other federal agencies have devoted
significant resources to the issue in terms of funds, personnel, and training time. Given the scope
and complexity of this issue, it is helpful to apply a framework for analysis and oversight. This
report provides such a framework to help congressional staff understand the legislative and policy
landscape, and to link proposed policy solutions with potential impact metrics.
Congressional oversight and action on military sexual assault can be organized into four main
categories: (1) DOD management and accountability, (2) prevention, (3) victim protection and
support, and (4) military justice and investigations. The first category deals with actions to
improve management, monitoring, and evaluation of DOD’s efforts in sexual assault prevention
and response. The second category includes efforts to reduce the number of sexual assaults
through screening, training, and organizational culture. The third category focuses on DOD’s
response once an alleged assault has occurred, including actions to protect and support the victim.
The last category addresses the application of justice through military investigative and judicial
processes.
Some of the reforms to military sexual assault prevention and response programs over the past
decade have shown positive results, particularly in the areas of increased transparency, a more
robust victim support system, and heightened awareness among servicemembers. Nevertheless,
existing data indicates that problems still exist and that specific demographics within the military
(e.g., LGBT and junior enlisted) might be more vulnerable to harm. Victim advocates have argued
for additional reforms, particularly in the area military justice and commander accountability for
establishing a positive and responsive organizational climate. Congress may consider these and
other arguments in its oversight role.

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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
A Framework for Congressional Oversight .............................................................................. 2
What is Military Sexual Assault? .............................................................................................. 4
DOD Management and Accountability ........................................................................................... 7
DOD Organization, Policy, and Planning ................................................................................. 7
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) Structure, Functions
and Roles ......................................................................................................................... 8
Strategic Planning and Evaluation ...................................................................................... 9
Data Collection, Management, and Reporting ......................................................................... 11
Challenges in Data Collection and Reporting ................................................................... 12
Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID) ....................................................... 14
DOD Surveys and Focus Groups ...................................................................................... 15
Oversight and Advisory Bodies .............................................................................................. 16
Prevention ...................................................................................................................................... 17
Organizational Culture and Leadership ................................................................................... 18
Identifying and Mitigating Community Risk Factors for Assault ..................................... 18
Command Climate and Commander Accountability ........................................................ 29
Education and Training ........................................................................................................... 30
Standardized Training Requirements and Target Audiences ............................................. 30
Core Elements of Training ................................................................................................ 31
Evaluating Training Effectiveness .................................................................................... 33
Identifying Risk for Perpetration ............................................................................................ 33
Entry Screening ................................................................................................................. 34
Identifying Serial Offenders .............................................................................................. 35
Victim Protection, Advocacy and Support Services ...................................................................... 36
Victim Privacy and Safety ....................................................................................................... 36
Restricted vs. Unrestricted Reporting ............................................................................... 37
Transfers and Military Protective Orders .......................................................................... 39
Victim Medical Care ............................................................................................................... 44
Helpline Support ..................................................................................................................... 47
Legal Assistance and Victim Advocacy .................................................................................. 47

SARCs and SAPR-VAs; Training and Standards.............................................................. 48
Special Victims Counsel (SVC) ........................................................................................ 49
Retaliation Protections ............................................................................................................ 50
Definitions of Retaliation .................................................................................................. 51
Investigative Authority for Retaliation ............................................................................. 52
Measuring the Extent of Retaliation ................................................................................. 54
Military Justice and Investigations ................................................................................................ 56
Investigation ............................................................................................................................ 57
Disposition of Cases ................................................................................................................ 59
Commander’s Discretion .................................................................................................. 60
Judicial Processes .................................................................................................................... 64
Outlook and Congressional Considerations .................................................................................. 65
Military Sex Offenses Continue to be Under-reported ............................................................ 65
Command Climate Flagged as an Area for Improvement ....................................................... 67
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Some Demographics are At Higher Risk ................................................................................ 67
Young, Junior Enlisted ...................................................................................................... 68
Servicemembers Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

(LGBT) .......................................................................................................................... 68
Installation and Command-Level Risk ............................................................................. 69
Training is Being Implemented but Impact is Uncertain ........................................................ 69
Victims are Largely Satisfied with Support Services .............................................................. 70
Questions Remain about Military Justice Processes ............................................................... 71

Figures
Figure 1. Military Sexual Assault: Areas for Congressional Oversight ........................................... 4
Figure 2. Unrestricted Reports of Sexual Assault by Type of Offense ............................................ 5
Figure 3. Estimated Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination for Active
Component ................................................................................................................................. 21
Figure 4. DOD Actions Following Restricted & Unrestricted Reports ......................................... 38
Figure 5. Aspects of Life Following Expedited Transfer .............................................................. 42
Figure 6. Perceived Retaliation Following a Report of Sexual Assault ........................................ 56
Figure 7. Estimated Prevalence v. Incident Reporting Trends for Sexual Assault of Active
Duty Servicemembers ................................................................................................................ 66
Figure 8. Age Demographics for Reported Subjects and Victims of Sexual Offenses .................. 68

Tables
Table 1. DOD Metrics and Non-Metrics for Assessing SAPR Programs ...................................... 10
Table 2. Recurring SAPR Surveys and Focus Groups .................................................................. 15
Table 3. Estimated Prevalence of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination for
Reserve Component ................................................................................................................... 21
Table 4. Problematic Alcohol Use Among Service Academy Students ......................................... 27
Table 5. Audience and Frequency of Required SAPR Training .................................................... 31
Table 6. Expedited Transfers and Denials ..................................................................................... 41
Table 7. Reported Military Protective Order (MPO) Violations ................................................... 44
Table 8. Types of Retaliation and Investigative Authority ............................................................ 54
Table 9. Selected Legislative Reforms Related to Commander’s Disposition Authority .............. 61
Table 10. Estimated Past-Year Sexual Assault Prevalence Rates for LGBT
Servicemembers ......................................................................................................................... 69
Table 11. Restricted to Unrestricted Report Conversions .............................................................. 70

Table B-1. Selected Military Sexual Assault Task Forces, Committees, and Panels ..................... 74
Table D-1. CDC Sexual Violence Risk Factors ............................................................................. 78

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Appendixes
Appendix A. Abbreviations ........................................................................................................... 72
Appendix B. Selected Committees, Task Forces, and Panels ........................................................ 74
Appendix C. DOD Surveys and Focus Groups ............................................................................. 75
Appendix D. CDC Sexual Violence Risk Factors ......................................................................... 78

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 79
Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 79

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Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

Introduction
Sexual violence is a society-wide issue that affects individuals in the workplace, at colleges and
universities, and in both public and private spaces. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, one in three women and one in four men
experienced some form of sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.1
Some data indicate that young adults are a particularly high-risk demographic. For example, the
Department of Justice (DOJ) has reported that women ages 18 to 24 have the highest rate of rape
and sexual assault victimizations compared to females in all other age groups.2 In addition, the
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 13% of all undergraduate and
graduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or
incapacitation.3 Studies have also found that sexual assault is costly to society. The effects of such
crimes reduce economic productivity (due to absenteeism and employee turnover), reduce the
lifetime earnings of victims, and places additional burdens on the health care and criminal justice
system.4
Recent advocacy campaigns, like the #MeToo movement which emerged in 2017, have sought to
raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment in the workplace and hold
offenders accountable.5 While state and federal lawmakers have taken some actions to address
these broader societal concerns, particular aspects of military service (e.g., young demographic,
remote assignments, hierarchal command structure, and the unique justice system) may require a
distinct set of policy solutions. The threat of sexual violence against female military
servicemembers has been part of the historical debate over whether women should be allowed to
serve in the military and in certain combat roles and whether they should be required to register
for the selective service and subject to a military draft.6 In these debates, a frequently cited
concern has been the possibility that captured U.S. servicewomen could be exposed to sexual
violence from enemy forces. Nonetheless, data has shown that the threat of sexual violence does
not come only from enemy forces or strangers, but also from fellow servicemembers. More often
than not, sexual violence in the military is committed by someone known to the victim.7
Sexual violence is not only a threat for women serving in the military. Data from FY2014
indicated that while military men experience lower rates of sexual assault than women, the total
number of men affected in the military was higher than the number of women affected (due to a

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Sexual Violence, 2019,
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-factsheet.pdf.
2 Sofi Sinozich and Lynn Langton, Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013,
Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2014,
https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf.
3 RAINN, Campus Sexual Violence: Statistics, https://www.rainn.org/statistics/campus-sexual-violence.
4 National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), Sexual Violence in the Workplace; Overview, 2013,
https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/2013-04/publications_nsvrc_overview_sexual-violence-workplace.pdf.
5 Andrea Johnson et al., Progresss in Advancing Me too Workplace Reforms in #20Statesby2020, National Women's
Law Center, July 2019.
6 See, CRS Report R44321, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues
for Congress
, by Kristy N. Kamarck, CRS Report R42075, Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, by Kristy N.
Kamarck, and CRS Report R44452, The Selective Service System and Draft Registration: Issues for Congress, by
Kristy N. Kamarck.
7 For more on intimate partner violence in the military, see CRS Report R46097, Military Families and Intimate
Partner Violence: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Kristy N. Kamarck, Alan Ott, and Lisa N. Sacco.
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Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

higher percentage of men serving). Subsequent surveys have shown higher numbers of women
affected.8
Sexual violence affects the physical and psychological well-being of victims, particularly when
they must remain in close proximity to the perpetrator following an assault (e.g., both victim and
perpetrator are serving in the same military unit).9 According to a psychologist specializing in
military sexual assault,
When you are raped by a stranger, you don’t have to deal with that in day-to-day life. [In
the military, the victim] deals with the rape and the impact on her community and also the
ongoing influence of the offender on her life outside of that specific assault.10
Sexual violence in the military workplace can impact unit cohesion, stability, and ultimately,
mission success. Recent research has also found that those exposure to sexual assault and
harassment is associated with higher rates of premature separation from the service; associated
with a cost to the military in manpower investments and a loss of potential lifetime compensation
for servicemembers who are afffected.11 Hence, congressional concerns about sexual violence in
the military reflect complementary imperatives: protecting the individual health and welfare of
military servicemembers, and ensuring preparedness and effectiveness of military units.
A Framework for Congressional Oversight
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to raise and support armies,
provide and maintain a navy, and make rules for the governance of those forces. Under this
authority, Congress determines military criminal law applicable to members of the Armed Forces.
Congress has determined that sexual assault is a criminal act under the Uniform Code of Military
Justice (UCMJ). As such, Congress has an interest in overseeing the implementation and
enforcement of these laws in order to provide for the health, welfare, and good order and
discipline of the Armed Forces.
Congressional efforts to address military sexual assault, pursuant to its Constitutional authority,
have intensified over the past two decades. This has largely been in response to rising public
concern about incident rates and perceptions of a lack of adequate response by military leaders to
support the victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Since 2004, Congress has enacted over

8 The estimated number of military sexual assaults is based on survey data and estimates vary from year to year. For
example, analysis of FY2014 WGRA data estimated that 10,600 men and 9,600 women experienced past-year sexual
assault. Andrew R. Morral, et al, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military: Volume 2. Estimates for
Department of Defense Service Members from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study
, RAND Corporation, Santa
Monica, CA, p. 90, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR870z2-1.html. In FY2016, DOD’s estimated
prevalence was 6,300 for men and 8,600 for women. DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal
Year
2016, p. 26. In FY2018, DOD estimated 13,000 sexual assault victims were women, and 7,500 were men. DOD,
Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2019, Appendix C.: Metrics and Non-Metrics on Sexual
Assault, p. 11.
9 References to victims and perpetrators throughout this report should be understood as alleged victims and alleged
perpetrators prior to a determination of guilt or innocence. The term survivor is preferable to some who have
experienced and are recovering from sexual violence. In DOD sexual assault policy documents, the term survivor is
undefined. DOD defines a victim as “A person who asserts direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of
the commission of a sexual assault” (DODD 6495.01). For simplicity, this report uses the term victim when discussing
the response, investigation, and judicial processes related to sex crimes.
10 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report of the Judicial Proceedings Since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel:
Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offense
, February 2016.
11 Andrew R. Morral et al., Effects of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on Separation from the U.S. Military ,
RAND Corporation, Findings from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, Santa Monica, CA, 2021,
https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR870z10.html.
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100 provisions intended to address some aspect of the problem as part of the annual National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) has devoted
significant resources to the issue in terms of funds, personnel, and training time.
Given the scope and complexity of this issue, it is helpful to apply a categorical framework for
analysis and oversight. Figure 1 illustrates such a framework for areas of congressional interest
and action. It may help congressional staff understand the legislative and policy landscape, link
proposed policy solutions with potential impact metrics, and identify potential gaps.
Congressional oversight and action on military sexual assault can be organized into four main
categories.
1. DOD management and accountability.
2. Prevention.
3. Victim protection and support.
4. Military justice and investigations.
DOD management and accountability pertains to DOD’s internal organization, data collection,
reporting and evaluation of its sexual assault prevention and response policies, programs and
plans. Prevention efforts are aimed at “reducing the number of sexual assaults involving members
of the Armed Forces, whether members are the victim, alleged assailant, or both.”12 Victim
protection and support
focuses on DOD’s response once an alleged assault has occurred,
including actions to protect and support servicemember victims. Finally, military justice and
investigations
pertains to actions to ensure fair military investigative and judicial processes for
alleged perpetrators and victims, and the oversight bodies Congress has established to evaluate
these processes.

12 P.L. 111-383 §1601(a)(1).
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Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

Figure 1. Military Sexual Assault: Areas for Congressional Oversight

Source: CRS.
What is Military Sexual Assault?
Major criminal sexual violence offenses in the military are defined in the Uniform Code of
Military Justice (UCMJ), Chapter 47, Title 10 United States Code. Since 2006, Congress has
made substantial changes to UCMJ articles with regard to nature of sexual offenses and how they
are investigated and adjudicated. DOD’s definition of sexual assault is derived from the UCMJ
and is “intentional sexual contact characterized by the use of force, threats, intimidation, or abuse
of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent.”13 The definition includes both
contact offenses (e.g., groping) and penetrative offenses (e.g, rape).14 Available data indicate that
contact offenses account for approximately half of the sexual assault offenses reported by military
servicemember victims (see Figure 2).

13 DODI 6495.01, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program, p. 122, and DODI 6495.02, Sexual
Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Procedures.
14 Sexual contact is defined under 10 U.S.C. §920 as touching, or causing another person to touch, either directly or
through the clothing, the vulva, penis, scrotum, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person, with an intent
to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. Touching may
be accomplished by any part of the body or an object.
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Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

Figure 2. Unrestricted Reports of Sexual Assault by Type of Offense
FY2016-FY2019; Servicemember Victims

Source: DOD, Annual Reports on Sexual Assault in the Military, Statistical Appendices for FY2016-FY2019
Notes: These data do not include restricted reports of sexual assault or assaults reported to DOD where the
victim is not a servicemember. Data may include assaults that happened prior to victim’s service.
Because sexual harassment is associated with community risk factors for sexual assault,
congressional efforts to combat sexual harassment in the military are included in this report.
However, within DOD the process for handling sexual harassment complaints is separate and
distinct from sexual assault allegation processes. Sexual harassment is considered a form of
workplace sex discrimination and falls under DOD military equal opportunity policies.15 DOD’s
Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) oversees these issues.16
How does DOD Define Military Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?
Sexual Assault is defined by DOD policy as intentional sexual contact characterized by the use of force, threats,
intimidation, or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent.17 The term includes a broad
category of sexual offenses or attempts to commit these offenses defined under the UCMJ punitive articles.
(Articles 120 and 80). Article 120 includes rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact,
forcible sodomy, or attempts to commit these offenses.
Other sexual misconduct is also defined in the UCMJ is a separate article (10 U.S.C. §920c; Article 120c) that
includes nonconsensual indecent viewing, visual recording, or broadcasting, of the private area of another
individual. This Article also includes prostitution and forcible pandering18, and indecent exposure.

15 DOD, Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program, DODI 1350.02, September 4, 2020.
16 This office was formerly known as the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity. For more
information on military equal opportunity, see CRS Report R44321, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the
Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Kristy N. Kamarck.
17 Article 120 of the UCMJ defines consent as “words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual act
at issue by a competent person.”
18 Forcible pandering is compelling another individual to engage in an act of prostitution.
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Sexual Harassment in the military is not a punitive article under the UCMJ. It is defined in 10 U.S.C. §156119 to
include:
(1) Conduct that—
(A) involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and deliberate or repeated offensive
comments or gestures of a sexual nature when—
(i) submission of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's job, pay, or
career;
(ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions
affecting that person; or
(iii) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or
creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; and
(B) is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would perceive, and the victim does perceive, the
environment as hostile or offensive.
(2) Any use or condonation, by any person in a supervisory or command position, of any form of sexual behavior
to control, influence, or affect the career, pay, or job of a member of the armed forces or a civilian employee of
the Department of Defense.
(3) Any deliberate or repeated unwelcome verbal comment or gesture of a sexual nature by any member of the
armed forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense.
While some of DOD’s sexual violence policies and programs may apply to DOD civilians and
military dependents, this report focuses primarily on sexual assaults involving uniformed
servicemembers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force as alleged victims
or perpetrators.20 This includes active component members, cadets and midshipmen, and Reserve
Component members who are involved in an incident while performing active service or inactive
duty training.21 Sexual assaults involving military family members, including spouses or former
spouses, dependent children, and current or former intimate partners sharing a domicile or
parentage, are typically handled by the DOD Family Advocacy Program (FAP).22
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles health care needs for former servicemembers
with trauma related to military sexual assault, often termed Military Sexual Trauma (MST),
therefore veterans’ programs are beyond the scope of this report.23 Also not discussed in this
report are policies and programs specific to the U.S. Coast Guard (while operating under the
Department of Homeland Security), although much of the statute that applies to DOD
servicemembers also applies to uniformed members of the Coast Guard and students at the Coast

19 Section 548 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2017 (P.L. 114-328) modified this definition. In its
report accompanying the bill, the Conference Committee noted with concern that, “the existing definition of sexual
harassment has caused the military services to consider sexual harassment as a violation of equal opportunity policy
instead of an adverse behavior that data have demonstrated is on the spectrum of behavior that can contribute to an
increase in the incidence of sexual assault.” H.Rept. 114-840, p. 1027.
20 A 2021 GAO report found several gaps in how sexual misconduct is handled for DOD civilian employees, see U.S.
Government Accountability Office, Sexual Harassment and Assault: Guidance Needed to Ensure Consistent Tracking,
Response, and Training for DOD Civilians
, GAO-21-113, February 9, 2021, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-21-
113.
21 Active service and inactive duty training are defined in Section 101(d)(3) of Title 10 United States Code.
22 DOD collects data on reports of sexual assault prior to entry into the service. In some cases the member may have
been under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. For more on DOD response to intimate partner violence, see CRS
Report R46097, Military Families and Intimate Partner Violence: Background and Issues for Congress, by Kristy N.
Kamarck, Alan Ott, and Lisa N. Sacco.
23 For more information, see VA’s Military Sexual Trauma site: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp.
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Guard Academy.24 Finally, this report does not address sexual assault at the Merchant Marine
Academy, which falls under the purview of the Department of Transportation.25
DOD Management and Accountability
Subject to the direction of the President, the Secretary of Defense has “authority, direction, and
control over the Department of Defense,” giving the Secretary responsibility for developing
military personnel policies and programs, including those related to prevention of and response to
sex-related misconduct. 26 Congress, under its authority to regulate the armed forces, has taken
considerable interest over the past two decades years in the effectiveness of DOD’s sexual assault
prevention and response initiatives, and in a military commander’s scope of authority over
military sexual assault investigations. Congress has raised questions about accountability and
organization, which can generally be summarized as:
 Is DOD organized to manage and oversee sexual assault prevention and response
programming effectively?
 Are appropriate policies and procedures in place and are they adequately
communicated to the military departments?
 Do sufficient, rigorous, and objective data-collection processes and metrics exist to
measure the extent of the problem and to evaluate DOD progress in addressing the
issue?
DOD Organization, Policy, and Planning
On February 5, 2004, following a series of allegations of sexual assault from servicemembers
deployed to Iraq and Kuwait, the Secretary of Defense directed the establishment of the Care for
Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force,
to review how the Department handles treatment of and care for victims of sexual assault,
with particular attention to any special issues that may arise from the circumstances of a
combat theater.27
The Task Force released its final report in April 2004. At this time, there was little centralized
oversight, and military departments and services were primarily managing sexual assault
regulations and programs independently. One of the main findings from this report was that
definitions, policies, and processes for sexual assault prevention and reporting across services
were inconsistent and incomplete.28 This led the Task Force to recommend a single defense-wide
point of accountability.
In response to this recommendation, DOD established the Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response in October 2004.29 This Joint Task Force took responsibility for

24 For more information, see Coast Guard SAPR Resources: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-
Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Sexual-
Assault-Prevention-Response-and-Recovery-Program/SAPR-Resources-Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/.
25 The FY2017 NDAA (P.L. 114-328) includes a series of provisions related to sexual assault at the Merchant Marine
Academy (Sections 3510-3514).
26 10 U.S.C. §113.
27 DOD, Task Force Report on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, April 2004, p. v.
28 DOD, Task Force Report on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, April 2004, p. ix.
29 Memorandum from David S. C. Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to the Commander,
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developing a new DOD-wide sexual assault policy as directed by Congress in the FY2005
NDAA.30 DOD delivered the new policy on January 1, 2005.31 At that same time, the Joint Task
Force transitioned into the permanent structure that is now the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Response Office (SAPRO) under the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The FY2005 NDAA also
included a provision that established the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military
Services (SAMS) that renamed, expanded the scope, and extended the timelines of the existing
Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.32
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) Structure, Functions
and Roles

The SAMS Task Force’s December 2009 report made 30 recommendations for enhancing DOD
SAPR programs and policies. In the area of SAPRO functions and structure, the task force noted
the need for better coordination among stakeholders and more experienced staffing. As such, the
task force recommended
 revising the SAPRO structure to reflect the expertise necessary to lead and oversee
its primary missions of prevention, response, training, and accountability;
 appointing a SAPRO director at the general or flag officer level, active duty
military personnel from each Service, and an experienced judge advocate; and
 establishing a Victim Advocate position whose responsibilities and authority
include direct communication with victims.33
Following this report, Subtitle A of the FY2011 NDAA formalized the role and functions of the
SAPR office and programs.34 Section 1611 of the act provided statutory requirements and roles
for the inspector general, SAPRO staff, and the director. By law, the SAPRO Director must be a
general or flag officer or a DOD civilian in the Senior Executive Service. Operating under the
oversight of the Advisory Working Group of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the statutory duties
of the SAPRO Director are to
(1) oversee implementation of the comprehensive policy for the Department of Defense
sexual assault prevention and response program;
(2) serve as the single point of authority, accountability, and oversight for the sexual assault
prevention and response program; and
(3) provide oversight to ensure that the military departments comply with the sexual assault
prevention and response program.35
This provision required DOD to assign at least one officer in the grade of O-4 or above
(Lieutenant Commander or Major) from each of the Armed Forces to the SAPRO office. Of these

Joint Task Force (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response), August 20, 2004.
30 P.L. 108-375 §577.
31 DOD, DOD Announces New Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual Assault, News Transcript, January 4,
2005, http://www.ncdsv.org/images/NEWSTRANSCRIPTDODNewsBriefingJanuary42005.pdf. The current DOD
policy is reflected in DOD Instruction (DODI) 6495.02.
32 The Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies was mandated by Section
526 of the FY2004 NDAA (P.L. 108-136).
33 DOD, Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, December 2009.
34 P.L. 111-383.
35 P.L. 111-383.
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officers assigned, at least one is required to be in the grade of O-6 (Captain or Colonel) or
above.36
Strategic Planning and Evaluation
The SAMS Task Force 2009 report also recommended that DOD create a comprehensive sexual
assault prevention strategy to aid in standardization and coordination across the military
services.37 Subsequent provisions in the FY2011 NDAA required DOD to develop and implement
a plan to evaluate sexual assault prevention and response programs and establish standards to
assess progress on strategic goals.38 In May 2013, DOD released its first Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response (SAPR) strategic plan. DOD updated the strategic plan in January 2015
and again on December 1, 2016, for 2017-2021.39
DOD Metrics and Non-Metrics
In 2014, in collaboration with subject matter experts, researchers and policy-makers, DOD
developed a series of measurable metrics and non-metrics to “help illustrate and assess DOD
progress in sexual assault prevention and response” (see Table 1).40 Metrics are included in
DOD’s data gathering and reporting as discussed in the next section. DOD leaders and Congress
may use metrics to support oversight and to gauge whether outcomes are being met. For example,
metrics such as “estimated prevalence versus reporting” may help Congress to assess whether
reforms to support and protect victims of sexual assault are increasing the percentage of
individuals willing to make reports and initiate investigative processes.
Non-metrics differ from metrics in that they are intended to be descriptive in nature only. These
items address the military justice process. Any effort by military commanders to direct aspects or
outcomes of the judicial process may constitute unlawful command influence in the military
justice system.41 For example, if a military commander were observed trying to reduce the “time
interval from report of sexual assault to nonjudicial punishment outcome” (non-metric 4), it could
be perceived as pressuring investigators to forgo a thorough investigation in the interest of
speed.42 These non-metrics may still be useful for congressional oversight, as they can indicate
potential issues or trends within the military justice system.

36 GFOs are in the paygrades O-7 (Brigadier General or Rear Admiral Lower Half) through O-10 (General or Admiral).
The civilian equivalent would be a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES). For more on GFOs see, CRS Report
R44389, General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: Background and Considerations for Congress, by
Lawrence Kapp.
37 DOD, Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, December 2009, p. 58.
38 P.L. 111-383.
39 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategic Plan, 2017-2021, December 1, 2016.
40 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, FY2018, Appendix C. Metrics and Non-Metrics on Sexual
Assault. The term non-metric was coined by DOD.
41 Unlawful command influence is defined as “the improper use, or perception of use, of a superior authority to
interfere with the court-martial process.” The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center & School, Commander’s Legal
Handbook, 2019
, Misc Pub 27-8., p. 17.
42 Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) is an authority provided to military commanders as a mechanism to implement good
order and discipline through punitive actions (e.g., extra duty, forfeiture of pay, reduction in pay grade, temporary
detention). NJP is permitted by Article 15 or the UCMJ (10 U.S.C §815). Receipt of nonjudicial punishment does not
constitute a criminal conviction.
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Table 1. DOD Metrics and Non-Metrics for Assessing SAPR Programs
Metrics
Non-Metrics
Metric 1: Past-year Estimated Prevalence of Unwanted
Non-metric 1: Command Action – Case Dispositions
Sexual Contact
Metric 2: Estimated Prevalence versus Reporting
Non-metric 2: Court-Martial Outcomes
Metric 3: Bystander Intervention Experience in the Past-
Non-metric 3: Time Interval from Report of Sexual
Year
Assault to Court Outcome
Metric 4: Immediate Supervisor Addresses the
Non-metric 4: Time Interval from Report of Sexual
Continuum of Harm
Assault to Nonjudicial Punishment Outcome
Metric 5: Full-time Certified Sexual Assault Response
Non-metric 5: Time Interval from Report of
Coordinator and SAPR Victim Advocate Personnel
Investigation to Judge Advocate Recommendation
Currently Able to Provide Victim Support
Metric 6: Victim Experience – Satisfaction with Services
Non-metric 6: Investigation length
Provided
Metric 7: Percentage of Subjects with Victims Declining

to Participate in the Military Justice Process
Metric 8: Perceptions of Retaliationa

Metric 9: Service Member Kept Regularly Informed

During the Military Justice Process
Metric 10: Perceptions of Leadership Support for SAPR

Metric 11: Reports of Sexual Assault over Time

Source: DOD FY2019 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Appendix C: Metrics and Non-Metrics
on Sexual Assault.
Notes:
a. Metrics on retaliation are required by P.L. 114-328 §545(a).
DOD Plan of Action for Male Victims of Sexual Assault
In 2015, in response to growing concerns about the prevalence and low reporting rates for male
victims of sexual assault in the military, Congress required DOD to develop a plan to prevent and
respond to cases of sexual assault with male victims. DOD’s plan, released in August 2016,
outlined four key objectives:
1. Develop a unified communications plan tailored to men across the DOD.
2. Improve servicemember understanding of sexual assault against men.
3. Ensure existing support services meet the needs of males who experience sexual
assault.
4. Develop metrics to assess prevention and response efforts pertaining to males
who experience sexual assault.
In addition, DOD put together a working group to oversee progress toward these objectives and
announced intentions to reevaluate outreach, response, and prevention efforts within three years
of completion of the plan’s objectives.43

43 DOD, Plan to Prevent and Response to Sexual Assault of Military Men, August 30, 2016.
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Data Collection, Management, and Reporting
The availability, transparency, and quality of sexual assault data are fundamental elements of
accountability. DOD has provided annual reports to Congress related to sexual assault in the
military since calendar year 2004—the statutory requirement for reporting was added in
FY2011.44 In 2009, the SAMS Task Force report noted a lack of precision and reliability in
annually reported data.45 In addition, the task force highlighted inconsistencies in terminology use
among the services that could potentially affect data integration. As a result of these findings, the
task force recommended several improvements to DOD’s annual reporting processes. Congress
has amended and expanded the statutory requirements for various elements of this report over the
past decade in response to the 2009 Task Force recommendations and other information needs.
For example, the FY2013 NDAA required reporting of additional case synopsis details (e.g.,
alcohol involvement, existence of moral waivers for offenders, etc.) and FY2015 NDAA required
an analysis of the disposition of sexual assault offenses.46 In the FY2018 NDAA, Congress
required annual reports to include information on incidents involving non-consensual distribution
of private sexual images, and intimate partner assaults.47
What is required in DOD’s Annual Sexual Assault Reports48
By statute, the Secretary of a military department for an Armed Force is required to report annually to Congress
on the following information:

The number of reported sexual assaults committed by and against members of the Armed Force and the
number of substantiated cases.

A synopsis of each such substantiated case, and the action taken in the case,

The policies, procedures, and processes implemented in response to incidents of sexual assault.

The number of substantiated sexual assault cases in which the servicemember victim is deployed and the
assailant is a foreign national, and the policies, procedures, and processes implemented to monitor the
investigative processes and disposition of such cases and any actions taken to eliminate any gaps in
investigating and adjudicating such cases.

The number of permanent change of station or unit transfer applications submitted by a member of the
Armed Forces on active duty who is the victim of a sexual assault or related offense, number of
applications denied, and, a description of the reasons why the application was denied, if applicable.

An analysis and assessment of trends in the incidence, disposition, and prosecution of sexual assaults by
units, commands, and installations during the year covered by the report, including trends relating to
prevalence of incidents, prosecution of incidents, and avoidance of incidents.

An assessment of the adequacy of sexual assault prevention and response activities carried out by
training commands during the year covered by the report.

An analysis of the specific factors that may have contributed to sexual assault, assessment of the role of
such factors in contributing to sexual assault, and recommendations for mechanisms to eliminate or
reduce the incidence of such factors or their contributions to sexual assaults.

44 P.L. 111-383 §1631. The report deadline is April 30 of every year.
45 DOD, Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, December 2009, p. 78.
46 P.L. 112-239 §572, P.L. 113-291 §542.
47 P.L. 115-91 §§537 & 538. During consideration of the defense bill, DOD asked Congress to ”consider whether the
information required on intimate partner assault was already provided in annual Family Advocacy Program (FAP)
reports.” Office of Management and Budget, Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 2810—National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
, Washington, DC, July 11, 2017. Congress required that the information is
provided in SAPRO reports in addition to the annual FAP report.
48 10 U.S.C. 1561 note.
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An analysis of the disposition of the most serious sexual assault offenses committed by members of the
Armed Force, including the numbers of reports identifying offenses that were disposed of by each of the
following:
o
Conviction by court-martial, including a separate statement of the most serious charge
preferred and the most serious charge for which convicted.
o
Acquittal of all charges at court-martial.
o
Non-judicial punishment.
o
Administrative action, including each type of administrative action imposed.
o
Dismissal of all charges, including reason for dismissal and by stage of proceedings in which
dismissal occurred.

Information on each claim of retaliation in connection with a report of sexual assault in the Armed Force
made by or against a member of such Armed Force as follows:
o
A narrative description of each complaint.
o
The nature of such complaint, (i.e., professional or social retaliation).
o
The gender of the complainant and the individual claimed to have committed the retaliation.
o
The nature of the relationship between the complainant and the individual claimed to have
committed the retaliation.
o
The nature of the relationship, if any, between the individual alleged to have committed the
sexual assault concerned and the individual claimed to have committed the retaliation.
o
The official or office that received the complaint.
o
The organization that investigated or is investigating the complaint.
o
The current status of the investigation.
o
If the investigation is complete, a description of the results of the investigation, including
whether the results of the investigation were provided to the complainant.
o
If the investigation determined that retaliation occurred, whether the retaliation was an
offense under the UCMJ.

Formal and informal reports of sexual harassment involving servicemembers as follows:
o
The number of substantiated and unsubstantiated reports.
o
A synopsis of each substantiated report.
o
The action taken in the case of each substantiated report, including the type of disciplinary or
administrative sanction imposed, if any.

Reported incidents involving the nonconsensual distribution by a person subject to the UCMJ, of a
private sexual image of another person, including the following:
o
The number of substantiated and unsubstantiated reports.
o
A synopsis of each substantiated report.
o
The action taken in the case of each substantiated report, including the type of disciplinary or
administrative sanction imposed.
Challenges in Data Collection and Reporting
Overall, changes to data collection and reporting over the past decade have created a high degree
of transparency on the scope of sexual assault reporting, prevalence, and adjudication within the
military justice system. DOD, Congress and other stakeholders use information from DOD’s
annual report to analyze trends, evaluate SAPR program effectiveness, and develop evidence-
based approaches to improve prevention and response.
However, gathering data and measuring sexual assault prevalence and trends are challenging for a
number of reasons. For one, data suggest that sexual assault is consistently the most
underreported type of violent crime in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of
Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), an
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estimated 24.9% of rapes and other sexual assaults were reported to police in 2018. This
compares to robberies, of which 62.6% were reported to authorities, and regular assault incidents,
of which 43% were reported.49 In 2018, DOD estimated based on survey results that 30% of
active duty military women and 17% of men who experienced unwanted sexual contact
subsequently reported it.50 There are various reasons for underreporting, including personal
embarrassment or shame, lack of trust in the criminal justice system, or fear of reprisals or
stigmatization. DOD’s survey found that some the main reasons for not reporting a sexual assault
for women and men were “wanted to forget about it and move on”, “did not want more people to
know,” and “felt ashamed or embarrassed.”51
Some studies have found that the prevalence of sexual victimization is higher in the military than
in civilian populations, while others have found that rates of sexual violence against women are
not significantly different between these two populations.52 Other researchers have cautioned
against comparisons of military sexual assault statistics with civilian data, noting that, “rates of
sexual assault are likely to be sensitive to the age distribution in the population, the gender
balance, education levels, the proportions that are married, duty hours, sleeping accommodations,
alcohol availability, and many other sexual assault risk factors that differ between the active-duty
population and various candidate comparison groups.” 53 In addition, data collection,
comparisons, and analysis of trends are difficult when different organizations use inconsistent
terminology or metrics. For example, until 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will.”54 This definition
excluded male victims and other sexual offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions.55
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that highlighted the
difficulties and lack of standardization across federal agencies in defining and collecting data on
sexual assault. The review included four federal agencies—DOD, Department of Education,
Department of Health and Human Services, and DOJ. According to the GAO report, these
agencies,
[M]anage at least 10 efforts to collect data on sexual violence, which differ in target
population, terminology, measurements, and methodology. […]These data collection
efforts use 23 different terms to describe sexual violence.56

49 Rachel E. Morgan and Barbara A. Oudekerk, Criminal Victimization, 2018, U.S. DOJ, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
September 2019, p. 8.
50 DOD, Office of People Analytics , Annex 1: 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members
Overview Report
, OPA Report No. 2019-027, May 2019, p. 35,
https://www.sapr.mil/sites/default/files/Annex_1_2018_WGRA_Overview_Report.pdf
51 Ibid., p. 36.
52 See the discussion in Valerie A. Stander and Cynthia J. Thomsen, "Sexual Harassment and Assault in the U.S.
Military: A Review of Policy and Research Trends," Military Medicine, vol. 181 (January 2016, Pages 20–27), pp. 21-
22.
53 Andrew R. Morral, Kristie L. Gore, and Terry L. Schell, et al., Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S.
Military: Top-Line Estimates for Active-Duty Servicemembers from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study
, RAND
Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2014, p. ix.
54 Federal Bureau of Investigations, Frequently Asked Questions about the Change in the UCR Definition of Rape,
December 11, 2014.
55 The new FBI definition of rape that went into effect on January 1, 2013 is “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the
vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of
the victim.”
56 GAO, Sexual Violence Data: Actions Needed to Improve Clarity and Address Differences Across Federal Data
Collection Efforts
, GAO-16-546, July 2016.
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DOD definitions related to sexual assault have varied over time, as has the methodology for
DOD’s data collection. To address the issue of consistency in definitions, Section 577 of the
FY2005 NDAA (P.L. 108-375) required DOD to develop a uniform definition of sexual assault
that applies to all the Armed Forces. Changes to the UCMJ in 2012 also affected categorization of
incidents, creating a challenge for comparisons of incident indicators over time.
DOD uses various tools to collect, record, and manage sexual assault data. These tools include
surveys, focus groups, and the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID). While some
surveys are used to estimate prevalence of reported and unreported incidence of sexual violence
and harassment, DSAID is used for recording documented reported incidents. As discussed
above, sexual violence is often under-reported, so there are likely to be disparities between
prevalence estimates and DSAID incident data.
Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID)
Congressional actions in 2004 and subsequent legislation required DOD to enhance the collection
and management of reported sexual assault incident data. In particular, Section 583 of the
FY2007 NDAA required the Secretary of Defense to
[I]mplement a centralized, case-level database for the collection and maintenance of
information regarding sexual assaults involving a member of the Armed Forces; including,
nature of the assault, the victim, the offender, and the outcome of legal proceedings in
connection with the assault.57
The provision required DOD to use this database to create the sexual assault-related
congressional reports mandated in previous and subsequent NDAAs. The resulting database,
known as the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID), has been in place since 2012
and was fully implemented in October 2013.58 It is the primary mechanism for tracking reported
incidents, the associated circumstances, and the disposition of cases.59 DSAID has three primary
functions: (1) to serve as a case management system for the maintenance of data on sexual assault
cases and to track support for victims in each case; (2) to facilitate program administration and
management for SAPR programs; and (3) to develop congressional reports, respond to ad hoc
queries, and assist in trend analysis.60
The Defense Assault Incident Database Form is used to collect sexual assault incident data and is
typically completed by a SAPR responder.61 The victim may choose to submit a restricted report,
in which case no personally identifiable information for the victim or subject is captured in the
report. If a victim selects to submit an unrestricted report, the form will include personally

57 P.L. 109-364.
58 GAO, Military Personnel: DOD Has Processes for Operating and Managing its Sexual Assault Incident Database,
GAO-17-99, January 10, 2017, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-99.
59 The DSAID includes sexual contact crimes defined in the UCMJ by adults against adults but does not include data on
sexual assaults occurring between spouses or intimate partners. This database does not include sexual harassment
complaints.
60 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Statistical Data Regarding Military Adjudication of Sexual Assault Offenses,
Arlington, VA, April 2016, p. 9.
61 DD Form 2965, January 2016. Information collected for input into DSAID includes victim service and unit
affiliation, demographic information, duty status, command information, incident details (e.g., time, location,
characterization), actions regarding victim safety (e.g., expedited transfer or protective order), referral support provided
(e.g., medical, legal, spiritual), whether a forensic exam was offered/completed, investigation status, subject (alleged
perpetrator) information, and subject disposition.
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identifiable information, but other document privacy controls still apply.62 In 2016, the GAO
conducted a separate review of DSAID to examine the extent to which the database has met the
mandated requirements.63 According to a 2017 GAO report, DOD planned to spend $8.5 million
over fiscal years 2017 and 2018 to improve DSAID, for a total expenditure of approximately
$31.5 million on implementing and maintaining the database since its initial development.64
DOD Surveys and Focus Groups
DOD uses a variety of surveys and focus groups to collect data on the prevalence of, and attitudes
toward, sexual violence and to provide feedback from servicemembers on the effectiveness of
DOD prevention and response programs. DOD also administers surveys to victims of sexual
assault to better understand their experiences and satisfaction with the military judicial process
and support programs. These data are also used for program assessment metrics and non-metrics.
For more details on these surveys see Table 2 and Appendix C.
Table 2. Recurring SAPR Surveys and Focus Groups
Surveys and Focus Groups
Target Population
Frequency
Workplace and Gender Relations
Reserve component servicemembers
Biennial (odd years)
Survey—Reserve Component (WGRR)
Workplace and Gender Relations
Active component servicemembers
Biennial (even years)
Survey—Active Component (WGRA)
Military Service Gender Relations Focus Active component
Biennial (odd years)
Groupsa
Military Service Academy Gender
Service Academy personnel
Biennial (odd
Relations Survey (SAGR),
academic program
years)
Military Service Academy Gender
Service Academy personnel
Biennial (even
Relations Focus Groups (SAGR)
academic program
years)
Survivor Experience Survey (SES)
Sexual assault survivors who have made an
Rolling basis
unrestricted or restricted report of sexual
assault at least 30 days prior
Military Investigation and Justice
Military servicemembers who made a formal
Annual, first survey
Experience Survey (MIJES)b
report of sexual assault and have a closed
complete in 2015, last
case
survey administered
in 2017
QuickCompass of Sexual Assault
Sexual Assault Response Coordinators
Surveys published for
Prevention and Response-Related
(SARCs) and Victim Advocates (VAs)
2009, 2012, and 2015
Responders (QSAPR)
Defense Equal Opportunity
All servicemembers
Rolling basis
Management Institute’s Organizational
Climate Survey (DEOCS)

62 Ibid. For a more comprehensive discussion of restricted v. unrestricted reporting, please see “Restricted vs.
Unrestricted Reporting.”

63 GAO, Sexual Violence Data: Actions Needed to Improve Clarity and Address Differences Across Federal Data
Collection Efforts
, GAO-16-546, July 2016.
64 DOD has noted that these expenditures will not be funded until an analysis of alternatives is conducted in line with
defense acquisition policies. GAO, Military Personnel: DOD Has Processes for Operating and Managing its Sexual
Assault Incident Database
, GAO-17-99, January 10, 2017.
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Source: DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Annual Reports.
Notes: Participation in all surveys and focus groups is voluntary for the target population. Some metrics are
captured by more than one survey.
a. This study was referred to as Focus Group on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Among Active Duty
Members (FGSAPR). The first administration of the focus group in 2014, before the decision to alternate
annually between survey and focus group data collection. It is now conducted biennially on odd years.
b. MIJES results were not representative of the entire population of military victims that participated in the
military justice system. To produce more generalizable estimates, DOD added questions to the 2018
WGRA.
Oversight and Advisory Bodies
Between 2005 and 2020, Congress and DOD have established several committees, task forces,
and panels to provide review and oversight of SAPR policy implementation (see Table B-1).
These groups have created a significant body of research and analysis, providing evidence-based
policy recommendations to DOD and Congress.
In operation as of 2020 was the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and
Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces (DAC-IPAD). This 20-member committee was
mandated by Section 546 of the FY2015 NDAA and established on February 18, 2016 with a
five-year term.65 FY2020 NDAA extended the authority for the committee’s work for an
additional five years.66
The duties of this committee, are to (1) “advise the Secretary of Defense on the investigation,
prosecution, and defense of allegations of rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, and other sexual
misconduct involving members of the Armed Forces”, and (2) “review, on an ongoing basis,
cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct.” The committee is also required by law to
submit annual reports to the Secretary of Defense and the Armed Services Committees of the
House and Senate not later than March 30th of every year. In the FY2019 NDAA, Congress gave
the committee additional authority to compel DOD to provide information relevant to the
committee’s scope as requested.67
As part of the FY2020 NDAA, Congress requested an additional DAC-IPAD review of
penetrative sexual assault cases by the race and ethnicity of the accused.68 This review was
motivated by congressional concerns about racial and ethnic disparities in the military justice
system. A 2019 GAO report found that Black and Hispanic servicemembers were more likely
than white servicemembers to be tried in general and special courts-martial across all military
services.69
While the DAC-IPAD primarily provides oversight and advice on matters related to the military
justice system, in the FY2020 NDAA, Congress mandated the creation of another 20-member
advisory committee with a new emphasis on prevention of sexual assault.70 The Defense Advisory
Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct (DAC-PSM) was to chartered on November

65 DOD, “Charter Establishment of Department of Defense Federal Advisory Committees,” February 23, 2018. The
predecessor to the DAC-IPAD was the Judicial Proceedings Panel (JPP).
66 P.L. 116-92 §535.
67 P.L. 115-232 §533.
68 P.L. 116-92 §5401.
69 GAO, Military Justice: DOD and the Coast Guard Need to Improve Their Capabilities to Assess Racial and Gender
Disparities
, GAO-19-344, May 30, 2019, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-344.
70 P.L. 116-92 §550B.
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30, 2020 for a 5-year term.71 The role of this committee is to advise the Secretary of Defense on,
“1) the prevention of sexual assault (including rape, forcible sodomy, other sexual assault, and
other sexual misconduct [including behaviors on the sexual assault continuum of harm] involving
members of the Armed Forces, and 2) the policies, programs, and practices of each military
department, each Armed Force, and each military service academy for the prevention of sexual
assault.” Members of the committee are to be appointed by the Secretary of Defense and must
include individuals with expertise in culture change in large organizations, prevention of sexual
assault and behaviors on the sexual assault continuum of harm, adverse behaviors (including the
prevention of suicide and substance abuse), and implementation science.72 The law requires the
DAC-PSM to coordinate and consult with the DAC-IPAD as needed.
Prevention
This section of the report mainly discusses primary prevention of sexual assault, characterized by
the CDC as,
...population-based and/or environmental and system-level strategies, policies, and actions
that prevent sexual violence from initially occurring. Such prevention efforts work to
modify and/or entirely eliminate the events, conditions, situations, or exposure to
influences (risk factors) that result in the initiation of sexual violence and associated
injuries, disabilities, and deaths.73
The CDC has identified four types of risk factors that are correlated with higher incidence of
sexual assault: (1) individual risk factors (e.g., general aggressiveness, empathetic defects,
alcohol/drug use); (2) relationship risk factors (e.g., association with sexually aggressive,
hypermasculine,74 and delinquent peers); (3) community risk factors (e.g., general tolerance of
sexual violence, lack of institutional support); and (4) societal risk factors (e.g., weak gender-
equity laws/policies).75 Table D-1 in the Appendix displays a full list of these risk factors.
Military leaders have repeatedly stated a “zero tolerance” philosophy toward military sexual
assault. Nevertheless, DOD’s prevention strategy acknowledges that the potential for assault
exists, stating that “individuals within the DOD come from a wide variety of backgrounds and
their past experiences shape their attitudes and behavior in response to life events. Individuals
may express themselves in different ways, and for some, violence may be a choice.”76

71 FACA Database, Committee Detail for DOD 84609 - Defense Advisory Committee for the Prevention of Sexual
Misconduct, at https://www.facadatabase.gov/FACA/apex/FACAPublicCommittee?id=a10t000000EqwoDAAR.
72 DOD defines the continuum of harm as “inappropriate actions, such as sexist jokes, hazing, cyber bullying, that are
used before or after the assault and or support an environment which tolerates these actions.”
73 Sexual Violence Prevention: Beginning the Dialogue. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
2004. The CDC also defines secondary (immediate response after sexual assault perpetration) and tertiary prevention
(long-term response). Secondary and tertiary responses are discussed in the Victim Protection section of this report.
74 Scholars suggest that hypermasculinity is generally associated with (1) the view of violence as manly, (2) the
perception of danger as exciting and sensational, and (3) callous behavior toward women and a regard toward
emotional displays as feminine. Donald L. Mosher and Mark Sirkin, "Measuring a Macho Personality Constellation,"
Journal of Research in Personality, vol. 18, no. 2 (June 1984), pp. 150-163. Some have argued that the military
actively and passively attracts individuals with these viewpoints and fosters a hypermasculine culture. Melissa Brown,
Enlisting Masculinity: The Construction of Gender in U.S. Military Recruiting and Advertising During the All-
Volunteer Force
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
75 DOD, 2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, April 30, 2014, p. 19.
76 DOD, 2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, April 30, 2014, p. 8.
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DOD’s prevention actions in this regard have been focused on reducing risk factors for sexual
assault. Questions of congressional concern include:
 Are military leaders adequately trained for, committed to, and held accountable for
developing an organizational culture that reduces risk factors for sexual assault?
 Are sexual assault prevention training programs in the military timely, effective,
and appropriate for the target audiences?
 Does DOD have the appropriate authorities and are they taking adequate actions to
screen out or deter potential perpetrators?
In the FY2020 NDAA, Congress sought to “reinvigorate the prevention of sexual assault
involving members of the Armed Forces” by requiring DOD to develop or enhance policy
elements related to prevention.77 The prevention elements specified in the law are education and
training, promotion of healthy relationships, empowering Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs),
social courage and bystander intervention, addressing behaviors in the continuum of harm, and
addressing alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
Organizational Culture and Leadership
The military’s organizational culture78 varies both across the services (Army, Navy, Marine
Corps, Air Force, and Space Force) and within the services by occupational specialty (e.g.,
infantry, aviation, logistics). At the unit level, the organizational culture depends to a large degree
on the command climate established by unit leadership. As such, while policies to improve
organizational culture are often initiated at a DOD-wide level, implementation of policies is
typically the responsibility of commanders at the unit level. These commanders may face unique
community risk factors for sexual violence. For example, as an Army representative stated:
Primary prevention is looking at what are the risks. And that differs based on the
installation, unit makeup, the gender makeup, what types of units they are, and other
factors. We need to understand…the things that contribute to an environment for sexual
harassment and sexual assault…and help those sexual assault response coordinators and
victim advocates work with their commanders to understand what is the environment there,
and then what they can do specifically to address those issues, to reduce incidence of sexual
harassment and sexual assault.79
Identifying and Mitigating Community Risk Factors for Assault
Research suggests that workplace culture can be a factor when it comes to sexual assault
prevention.80 Findings from DOD surveys indicate that a majority of servicemembers who have
experienced past-year sexual assault were at a military location when the assault occurred.
FY2018 survey data indicate that among active duty servicemembers who reported experiencing

77 P.L. 116-92 §540D.
78 Organizational culture is commonly defined as, “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it
solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid
and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those
problems.” Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 4th ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010).
79 Meghann Myers, "Fanning: It's time to do a better job of preventing sexual assault," Army Times, October 1, 2016.
80 See for example, Richard Harris, Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Toward Conceptual Clarity,
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Report No. 07-01, 2007, and Anne G. Sadler, Factors Associated
with Women’s Risk of Rape in the Military Environment
, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, July 2003.
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a sexual assault in the prior year, 62% of women and 57% of men experienced the assault on a
military installation or ship, while 26% of women and 43% of men indicated that the assault
occurred “at work during duty hours.”81 Similarly, in FY2019, 66% of reserve component women
who experienced sexual assault reported that the assault occurred while they were in a military
status (e.g., performing full-time National Guard or Reserve duty or a drill period) and 65%
reported that the worst situation of sexual assault occurred at a military location.82 While not all
military assaults happen in the workplace, attitudes that are fostered in the workplace can
influence servicemembers’ off-duty actions.
The connection between actions and circumstances leading to sexual violence is sometimes called
the continuum of harm. DOD defines the continuum of harm as “inappropriate actions, such as
sexist jokes, hazing, cyber bullying, that are used before or after the assault and support an
environment which tolerates these actions.”83 By using existing data collected through the WGR
survey to identify the circumstances and leading indicators of sexual assaults, military
commanders can take action to reduce community risk factors along this continuum and create a
culture of early intervention. The following sections discuss these risk factors and behaviors in
more detail.
GAO Study on DOD Efforts to Address the Continuum of Unwanted Sexual
Behaviors
The Senate report to accompany the FY2017 NDAA asked the Comptroller General to review efforts by DOD
to address the “continuum of offenses involving unwanted sexual behavior,” noting that behaviors described as
hazing, sexual harassment, and domestic violence commonly overlap, but reporting and oversight are sometimes
fragmented.84 GAO reported that DOD and military service policies “generally include CDC’s principles regarding
prevention strategies, but none address risk and protective factors, which identify conditions or behaviors that
might heighten or lower the risk of sexual harassment victimization or perpetration, respectively.”85 GAO also
found evidence of collaborative efforts to address the continuum of harm among DOD offices and programs
responsible for domestic violence, sexual assault, and discrimination and harassment (ODEI).86
GAO recommended four ways that DOD could improve sexual assault policies and strategies. In reaction to
GAO’s recommendations, DOD updated its harassment prevention policies (DODI 1020.03) in February 2018 to
identify procedures for submitting anonymous complaints and for standardized data-reporting by the military
departments.87

81 Amanda Grifka, et al., 2017 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Reserve Component Members: DOD
Overview Report
, Department of Defense, Office of People Analytics, OPA Report No. 2018-026, April 2018, p. 25.
82 Rachel A. Breslin, Ashlea Klahr, and Kimberly Hylton, et al., 2019 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of
Reserve Component Members
, DOD Office of People Analytics, Overview Report, May 2020, pp. vii and 24. Data on
reserve component men was non-reportable due to small numbers.
83 DOD, 2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, April 30, 2014.
84 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017,
Report to Accompany S. 2943, 114th Cong., 2nd sess., May 18, 2016, p. 155.
85 GAO, Sexual Violence; Actions Needed to Improve DOD"s Efforts to Address Continuum of Unwanted Behaviors,
GAO-18-33, December 2017, https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/689086.pdf. See page 15 for a breakdown by service of
policy compliance with CDC principles.
86 Ibid., p. 32.
87 DOD, Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces, DODI 1020.03, February 8, 2018,
https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/102003.pdf.
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Sexual Harassment, Sexism, and Gender Discrimination
Studies have found strong positive correlations between the incidence of sexual assault within
units and an environment permissive to sexism and sexual harassment. For example, a 2003
military study found that women reporting sexually hostile work environments had approximately
six-fold greater odds of rape.88 The same study found that officers allowing or initiating sexually
demeaning comments or gestures toward female soldiers was associated with a three-to-four-fold
increase in likelihood of rape.
The prevalence of sexual harassment in the military is estimated through survey responses and
data on formal complaints. DOD measures the prevalence of sexism in the workplace using two
indicators in the WGR survey: 1) past-year experience with sexual harassment including a
sexually hostile work environment or sexual quid pro quo in the military; and 2) gender
discrimination including behaviors or comments directed at a person, because of their gender.89
Estimated prevalence of sexism in the workplace is higher for military women than men. Among
the services, results from the WGRA surveys between FY2014 and FY2018 show that the Navy
and Marine Corps consistently have the highest estimated rates of sexual harassment for women,
while the Air Force has the lowest (see Figure 3). Similarly, estimated prevalence of gender
discrimination towards women is estimated to be higher for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps
relative to the Air Force.

88 Richard Harris, Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Toward Conceptual Clarity, Defense Equal
Opportunity Management Institute, Report No. 07-01, 2007. Anne G. Sadler, Factors Associated with Women’s Risk of
Rape in the Military Environment
, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, July 2003, p. 268.
89 DOD defines gender discrimination as unlawful discrimination in which there is discrimination based on sex that is
not otherwise authorized by law or regulation. The WGRA survey questions related to gender discrimination seeks to
ascertain whether a servicemember experienced comments and behaviors directed to the individual related to his/her
gender and if these experiences harmed or limited his/her career.
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Figure 3. Estimated Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination for Active
Component
Past-year experience for men and women by service

Source: DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members; Overview Report, OPA Report
No. 2019-027, May 2019.
Notes: An asterisk (*) indicates that there was a statistically significant increase from the FY2016 to the FY2018
survey.
Recent survey data for the reserve component generally shows lower prevalence of sexual
harassment and gender discrimination than the active component; this could be a reflection of the
part-time nature of the work (see Table 3).90
Table 3. Estimated Prevalence of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination for
Reserve Component
Past-year experience for men and women by service in FY2019

Sexual Harassment
Gender Discrimination

Men
Women
Men
Women
Army Reserve
4.5%
18.0%
1.4%
9.7%
Navy Reserve
3.6%
15.7%
1.3%
9.0%
Marine Corps Reserve
2.4%
NR
0.7%
NR
Air Force Reserve
3.2%
10.3%
1.3%
6.6%

90 Rachel A. Breslin, Ashlea Klahr, and Kimberly Hylton, et al., 2019 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of
Reserve Component Members
, DOD Office of People Analytics, Overview Report, May 2020.
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Sexual Harassment
Gender Discrimination

Men
Women
Men
Women
National Guard
4.9%
18.8%
1.4%
11.0%
Source: DOD, 2019 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Reserve Component Members.
Notes: Marine Corps data for women is not reportable (NR) due to small sample sizes.
Like sexual assault, sexual harassment appears to be underreported based on comparisons
between estimated prevalence rates and documented complaints. According to SAPRO data, in
FY2018, there were a total of 932 formal complaints of sexual harassment.91 However, estimated
prevalence rates would indicate that over 100,000 active duty servicemembers (24% of women
and 6% of men) experienced sexual harassment in the past year.92 Previous reports suggest that a
majority of individuals choose not to submit formal complaints with the belief that the incident
“was not sufficiently serious to report or that the incident would not be taken seriously if
reported.”93
Similar patterns of under-reporting also exist in the
How Can Servicemembers Report
civilian sector. The U.S. Equal Employment
Harassment or Discrimination?
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives
Servicemembers who experience harassment or
approximately 12,000 charges alleging sex-based
discrimination may file a report or complaint with
harassment annually, while various surveys and
their chain of command, the Inspector General,
studies suggest that anywhere from 25% to 85% of
the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) office, or
with someone in their unit assigned as a MEO
women report having ever experienced sexual
representative.
harassment in the workplace.94
A 2011 GAO report found that DOD had limited visibility into the extent of sexual harassment in
the ranks due to a lack of uniformity in data collection and reporting.95 Since that time, Congress
and DOD have taken some actions to improve monitoring of sexual harassment. Section 579 of
FY2013 NDAA required the Secretary of Defense to develop a comprehensive policy to prevent
and respond to sexual harassment in the Armed Forces and to develop a plan to collect
information and data regarding substantiated incidents of sexual harassment involving members
of the Armed Forces.96
Military commanders have a role to play in ensuring a work environment free from gender
discrimination and sexual harassment. Survey data from FY2018 indicate that about half of those
who reported unwanted behavior were “encouraged to drop the issue” and in more than one-third

91 DOD, Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Appendix F: Sexual Harassment
Assessment, p. ix.
92 DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members; Overview Report, OPA Report No.
2019-027, May 2019, p. 32.
93 GAO, Preventing Sexual Harassment: DOD Needs Greater Leadership Commitment and an Oversight Framework,
GAO-11-809, September 21, 2011.
94 Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic, Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, June 2016.
95 GAO, Preventing Sexual Harassment: DOD Needs Greater Leadership Commitment and an Oversight Framework,
GAO-11-809, September 21, 2011.
96 P.L. 112-239. On September 19, 2014, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Policy released a
memorandum, “Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment,” available at
https://www.sexualassault.army.mil/policy_directives.aspx.
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of the cases “the person they told took no action.”97 However, there are indications that some
military leaders are taking action to respond to sexual harassment in the workplace; in FY2018,
47% of women and 40% of men who experienced sexual harassment reported that someone
talked to the offender to ask them to change their behavior.”98
DOD oversight of sexual harassment continues to be an issue. As early as 2011, GAO highlighted
the lack of a rigorous oversight framework for addressing incidents.99 In February 2018, DOD
released an updated policy for sexual harassment prevention, providing new procedures.
Congress has also pushed for greater oversight of sexual harassment. The FY2019 NDAA
included a provision (Section 543) that required DOD to develop an oversight plan for the
implementation of sexual harassment prevention and response and to report to the Armed
Services Committees on the plan no later than July 1, 2019.100 As of May 2020, GAO reported
that DOD had yet to produce required documentation to show that it had established an oversight
framework.101
Members of Congress have also debated whether sexual harassment should be punishable under
the military justice process. In 2019, the Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task
Force (SAAITF), established by DOD, recommended that Congress add sexual harassment as a
punitive article under the UCMJ, “to make a strong military-wide statement about the seriousness
of these behaviors and the military’s zero-tolerance for them.”102 In the FY2020 NDAA,
Congress required DOD to submit a report to the Armed Services Committees containing
recommendations as to the appropriateness of establishing a new punitive article for sexual
harassment.103 The FY2021 NDAA did not include a provision establishing a new punitive article.
Stalking
Stalking or “grooming” behaviors are often associated with sexual harassment and sexual
violence. The DOJ defines stalking as,
engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable
person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional
distress.104
Federal and state laws prohibit stalking, and those who violate stalking laws may be subject to
certain criminal penalties.105 States’ civil and criminal stalking laws and penalties vary. Stalking
activities often include repeated nonconsensual communication (e.g., texts, phone calls),
frequently following an individual, or making threats against someone or that person’s family or
friends. More recently, social media and technology tools have been used for stalking and
grooming activities. Some examples of these are video-voyeurism—installing video cameras to

97 DOD, Office of People Analytics, Annex 1: 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members
Overview Report, OPA Report No. 2019-027, May 2019, p. 50.
98 Ibid.
99 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Preventing Sexual Harassment: DOD Needs Greater Leadership
Commitment and an Oversight Framework
, GAO-11-809, September 21, 2011, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-
11-809.
100 P.L. 115-232.
101 GAO, Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Defense, GAO-20-446PR, May 4, 2020, p. 41.
102 DOD. Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force, April 30, 2019.
103 P.L. 116-92 §540E.
104 United States Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women, at https://www.justice.gov/ovw/stalking.
105 18 U.S.C. §§2261 & 2261A.
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give the stalker access to someone’s private activities—posting threatening or private information
about someone in public forums, or using spyware or GPS tracking systems to monitor someone
without consent.106
Military servicemembers are also subject to stalking laws within the military justice system. In
the FY2006 NDAA (P.L. 109-163), Congress added stalking to the punitive articles in the UCMJ
to “enhance the ability of the Department of Defense to prosecute offenses relating to sexual
assault.”107 A servicemember guilty of stalking is one
(1) who wrongfully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would
cause a reasonable person to fear death or bodily harm, including sexual assault, to himself
or
herself
or
a
member
of
his
or
her
immediate
family;
(2) who has knowledge, or should have knowledge, that the specific person will be placed
in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm, including sexual assault, to himself or herself
or
a
member
of
his
or
her
immediate
family;
and
(3) whose acts induce reasonable fear in the specific person of death or bodily harm,
including sexual assault, to himself or herself or to a member of his or her immediate
family.108
Studies have found that stalking behaviors can be a precursor to sexual violence.109 Similar
associations have been found in the military context. According to DOD survey results an
estimated 19% of active component women and 23% of reserve component women who
experienced a sexual assault also experienced stalking before the assault.110 Both military men
and women also experienced stalking behavior from the perpetrator after reporting an assault.
Those on active duty who reported an assault experienced a higher rate of post-assault stalking
than those who did not report.
Hazing
Survey data also point to an association between hazing and sexual assault. For example, based
on the FY2018 WGRA survey, 38% of men and 21% of women described a sexual assault
situation they experienced as hazing or bullying.111 DOD considers hazing as a form of
harassment and it is prohibited by law.112 DOD policy defines hazing as

106 Ibid.
107 H.Rept. 109-1815, p. 314.
108 10 U.S.C. §930.
109 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, National Intimate
Partner
and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 Data Brief – Updated Release, Atlanta, GA, November 2018,
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf; and Fisher, Bonnie S. et al., The Sexual
Victimization of College Women
, National Institute of Justice; Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2000,
https://www.ce-credit.com/articles/100186/SexualVictimizationCollege100186.pdf. Frances P. Churcher and Marc
Nesca, "Risk Factors for Violence in Stalking Perpetration: A Meta-Analysis," FWU Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 7,
no. 2 (Winter 2013).
110 DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members; Overview Report, OPA Report No.
2019-027, May 2019, p. 34. Rachel A. Breslin, Ashlea Klahr, and Kimberly Hylton, et al., 2019 Workplace and Gender
Relations Survey of Reserve Component Members
, DOD Office of People Analytics, Overview Report, May 2020, p.
25.
111 DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members; Overview Report, OPA Report No.
2019-027, May 2019, p. vii.
112 DOD hazing policies apply to all servicemembers. There are specific provisions in law against hazing for cadets and
midshipmen at service academies (10 U.S.C. §§4352, 6964, and 9352). There is no specific article under the Uniform
Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that defines and prohibits hazing. However, hazing is punishable under various
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A form of harassment that includes conduct through which Service members or DOD
employees without a proper military or other governmental purpose but with a nexus to
military Service, physically or psychologically injures or creates a risk of physical or
psychological injury to Service members for the purpose of: initiation into, admission into,
affiliation with, change in status or position within, or a condition for continued
membership in any military or DOD civilian organization. Hazing can be conducted
through the use of electronic devices or communications, and by other means, including
social media, as well as in person.113
Hazing has been associated with various informal and unsanctioned military initiation rituals or
ceremonies, for example the awarding of “blood wings” for completion of the Army’s Air Assault
School or elements of Navy’s traditional “crossing the line”114 ceremony. While some argue that
these are relatively harmless and fun traditions that help to build unit camaraderie, others argue
that the rituals can quickly devolve into dangerous situations that may cause physical and
psychological injuries for individuals involved.115
A 2015 GAO report on male servicemember sexual assault found that in a group of 122 surveyed,
20% had heard of initiation-type activities that could be construed as sexual assault and six of the
respondents were able to provide first-hand accounts. Moreover, the GAO noted that two of the
victim advocates they had interviewed at different installations believed that some commanders
chose not to address hazing-type incidents that could have been sexual assault.116
Congress has taken previous measures to address hazing in the military. A provision in the
FY2013 NDAA required service secretaries to report to the Armed Services Committees on
hazing in their respective services to include any recommended changes to the UCMJ.117 The
Senate report to accompany the bill noted,
The committee believes that preventing and responding to incidents of hazing is a
leadership issue and that the service secretaries, assisted by their service chiefs, should be
looked to for policies and procedures that will appropriately respond to hazing incidents.118
The FY2015 NDAA included a provision requiring a GAO report on hazing in the armed
services.119 In February 2016, the GAO released its report, noting that although DOD and the
Coast Guard have policies in place to address hazing, there is a lack of regular oversight and
monitoring of policy implementation.120 To address some of these shortfalls, Congress included a
provision in the FY2017 NDAA that required DOD to establish a hazing database, improve

punitive articles included in the UCMJ such as Article 93, Cruelty and Maltreatment or Article 128, Assault.
113 DOD, Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces, DODI 1020.03, February 8, 2018.
114 Cale Weissman, “Behind the Strange and Controversial Ritual When You Cross the Equator At Sea,” Atlas
Obscura
, October 23, 2015.
115 Kirsten M. Keller et al., Hazing in the U.S. Armed Forces: Recommendations for Hazing Prevention Policy and
Practice
, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, 2015, pp. xii, xiii.
116 GAO, Military Personnel: Actions Needed to Address Sexual Assaults of Male Servicemembers, GAO-15-284,
March 2015.
117 P.L. 112-239 §534.
118 S.Rept. 112-173.
119 P.L. 113-291.
120 GAO, Military Personnel: Actions Needed to Increase Oversight and Management Information on Hazing Incidents
Involving Servicemembers
, 16-226, February 2016.
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training, and submit annual reports on hazing to the Armed Services Committees from January
31, 2019, through January 2021.121
According to DOD’s annual report for FY2018, complaints of hazing primarily come from junior
enlisted personnel with 96% of all complaints coming from E-1s to E-4s.122 Across DOD,
approximately 81% of the substantiated offenders were in pay grades E-3 to E-5. This
demographic also has the highest rates of sexual assault and sexual harassment perpetration and
victimization. Notably, data in DOD’s 2017 and 2018 reports show that the Marine Corps had
over four times as many substantiated hazing complaints as the other services combined, while
also having the fewest personnel of all the services.123 The Marine Corps has also consistently had
higher prevalence rates for sexual assault than the other services.
Alcohol Use
The CDC indicates that alcohol use is an individual risk factor for perpetration and also is
correlated with a higher risk of victimization.124 Some experimental research on male response to
alcohol intoxication has found that it “contributes to biased perceptions of the woman’s sexual
arousal, sexual interest, and enjoyment of forced sex, as well as increasing men’s feelings of
sexual entitlement.”125 In some instances, alcohol may also be used as a weapon by sexual
predators to groom individuals, reduce the victim’s resistance, or to fully incapacitate a victim.126
Alcohol use by a bystander might also impair his or her judgment in recognizing nonconsensual
activities, making it less likely for him or her to intervene in a threatening situation.
Intoxication increases risk factors for victimization by impairing an individual’s ability to refuse
or consent to sexual activities. For example, one study found that those who consume more than
five drinks in one episode on a regular basis are at higher risk for falling victim to assault and
aggressive behavior.127 Consent is a factor in prosecution of sex offenses. According to the
UCMJ, one who “commits a sexual act upon another person when the other person is incapable of
consenting to the sexual act due to impairment by any drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance,
and that condition is known or reasonably should be known by the person,” is guilty of sexual
assault and to be punished as a court-martial may direct.128 However, focus groups conducted
with active service members and SAPR personnel have found that consent is not well-understood,
particularly when there is alcohol use involved, whether by the victim and/or alleged
perpetrator.129

121 P.L. 114-328 §549. For more information on hazing in the military, see CRS In Focus IF10948, Hazing in the
Armed Forces
, by Kristy N. Kamarck.
122 DOD, Hazing Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces, Summary Report for Reporting Period October 1,
2017 - September 30, 2018, p. 21.
123 Ibid., Figure 1., p. 21. During the reporting period for FY2018, the Marine Corps had 91 substantiated complaints;
Army, 0 complaints; Navy, 10 complaints; and Air Force, 1 complaint.
124 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html.
125 Rhiana Wegner, et al., "Sexual Assault Perpetrators’ Justifications for Their Actions: Relationships to Rape
Supportive Attitudes, Incident Characteristics, and Future Perpetration," Violence Against Women, vol. 28, no. 8
(August 2015).
126 DOD, 2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, April 30, 2014.
127 H. Wechsler, et al., (1994). Health and behavioral consequences of binge drinking in college: A national survey of
students at 140 campuses. JAMA, 272, 1672-1677.
128 10 U.S.C. §920(b)(3).
129 Lisa Davis, et al., DOD, 2019 Military Service Gender Relations Focus Groups; Active Duty, OPA Report No.
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Data suggest that military servicemembers might be more prone to binge drinking than civilian
counterparts, putting this demographic at higher risk. For example, survey data from 2008 found
that 26% of active duty personnel aged 18 to 25 reported heavy alcohol use compared with 16%
of civilians in the same age cohort.130 More recent survey data estimated that 11% of military
women and 10% of military men experienced alcohol-impaired memory at least once in the past
year, with junior enlisted (E-1 through E-4) and junior officers (O-1 through O-3) experiencing
equally high rates of alcohol impairment (12%).131 FY2018 WGRA survey data indicated that
62% of military women and 49% of military men who reported experiencing a sexual assault
indicated that alcohol consumption (by alleged offender, victim, or both) was involved in the
incident.132 Finally, military service academy data indicate that while nearly half of cadets and
midshipmen engage in responsible alcohol use (two or fewer drinks on a typical day when
drinking), 15% of women and 32% of men indicated heavy drinking behavior (five or more
drinks at a time on a typical day when drinking) (see Table 4).133
Table 4. Problematic Alcohol Use Among Service Academy Students
Academic Program Year 2017-2018
Reported behavior
USMA
USNA
USAFA

Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Alcohol use consistent with
35%
17%
38%
18%
22%
10%
heavy drinkinga
At least one occasion of lost
31%
25%
30%
28%
23%
21%
memory due to drinking in
past year
Source: DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies; Academic
Program Year 2017-2018
, January 25, 2019, pp. 14-15.
Notes:
a. Heavy drinking is defined as five or more drinks at a time on a typical day when drinking.
Heavy alcohol use in the services is tied to both cultural and structural issues. According to
SAPRO reporting, military academy focus group participants “described alcohol use as a
glorified part of the academy culture, with frequent overindulgence and engagement in binge-
drinking, particularly on weekends. According to participants, cadets and midshipmen view
alcohol as an acceptable coping and stress reduction strategy that is endorsed by military

2020-065, April 2020, p. vii, https://media.defense.gov/2020/Apr/30/2002291696/-1/-1/1/15-ANNEX-1-2019-
MILITARY-SERVICE-GENDER-RELATIONS-FOCUS-GROUPS-OVERVIEW-REPORT.PDF.
130 R.M. Bray, "Substance use and mental health trends among U.S. military active duty personnel: Key findings from
the 2008 DOD health behavior survey," Military Medicine, vol. 175, no. 6 (June 2010). Heavy alcohol use was defined
by the study authors as drinking five or more drinks per typical drinking occasion at least once a week in the 30 days
before the survey. The criterion of five or more drinks is a common standard in definitions of heavy drinking and binge
drinking in other national surveys of civilians.
131 DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members; Overview Report, OPA Report No.
2019-027, May 2019, p. 60.
132 Ibid., p. vii.
133 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies; Academic Program
Year 2017-2018
, January 25, 2019.
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culture.”134 In addition, the culture of “barracks life” is cited as a risk factor for junior enlisted
members. As stated by one senior enlisted member,
For the barracks you have a lot of junior Sailors that know each other. Either they work
with each other, they know each other. When they're in the barracks partying, having fun
they don't think anything’s going to happen to them. And when the alcohol starts flowing
then that's when the predators among their peers usually come by, ‘Hey, let me take you
back to your room.’ And then that's when there's a sexual assault, either female or male.135
DOD and the services encourage commanders to address alcohol use as part of their prevention
strategies.136 For example the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Commander's
Guide suggests setting the example for responsible alcohol consumption, deglamorizing alcohol
use, and developing off-duty/liberty policies and strategies that limit opportunities for
servicemembers to abuse alcohol.137 Military commanders are also encouraged to create an
environment where bystanders can recognize risky situations and are empowered to intervene.
The Director of SAPRO described this type of intervention in a 2009 hearing before the House
Armed Services Committee:
So what we are trying to do is to teach young people if they see predator-type behavior to
intervene. Because we do know there are predators that will use alcohol as a weapon to
reduce a woman’s defenses in order in order to complete a sexual assault. So one of the
things we were trying to do is to make young people aware if somebody is mixing really
strong drinks for a young girl, stop it, intervene. Or if they walk out together and it just
doesn’t look like a good idea, they should take care of each other and maybe say we need
to go in this direction. Let’s not go home with him tonight or walk out with him tonight.138
Other interventions by commanders include reducing the hours of alcohol sales on military
installations, increasing prices, or limiting purchase quantities. Some commands have instituted
other policies such as limiting the amount of alcohol that individuals can have in the barracks or
banning alcohol use for deployed units in certain areas.139 The Army and Air Force have also
reported efforts to fund additional research on the role of alcohol use in sexual assault cases and
on potential interventions to reduce alcohol abuse.140 The 2017-2018 military service academy
report on sexual assault identified the promotion of responsible alcohol choices as the number one
action item to address sexual assault. Initiatives include online and in-person training programs,

134 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, Academic Program
Year 2018-2019, p. 23.
135 Lisa Davis, et al., DOD, 2019 Military Service Gender Relations Focus Groups; Active Duty, OPA Report No.
2020-065, April 2020, p. 54.
136 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategic Plan, January 26, 2015, p. 5.
137 Department of the Navy, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Commander's Guide.
138 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Sexual Assault in the
Military: Victim Support and Advocacy
, 111th Cong., 1st sess., January 28, 2009, H. Hrg 111-4 (Washington: GPO,
2010).
139 For example, in a few overseas locations (e.g., Qatar, Jordan, Egypt), policies are in place that limit alcohol
consumption to a specific number of drinks per day and only in designated locations. In addition, General Order
Number 1C prohibits consumption of alcoholic beverages or alcohol-containing substances by military personnel in
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military: Fiscal
Year 2015
, Enclosure 1: Department of the Army, May 2, 2016, p. 21. U.S. Central Command, General Order Number
1C (GO-1C)
, May 21, 2013.
140 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military: Fiscal Year 2015, May 2, 2016.
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discussion sessions, treatment and mentoring for alcohol offenders, and restrictions on the
number of alcoholic beverages that may be purchased at one time in campus bars.141
Command Climate and Commander Accountability
Congress has taken some actions to hold military leadership accountable for its command climate.
Section 572 of the NDAA for FY2013 required the commander of each military command to
conduct a climate assessment for the purposes of preventing and responding to sexual assaults
within 120 days of assuming command and at least annually thereafter.142 DOD uses the Defense
Equal Opportunity Climate Survey (DEOCS) as a survey tool to measure factors associated with
sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention and response, as well as other factors affecting
organizational effectiveness and equal opportunity. The DEOCS may be administered to
uniformed personnel and civilian employees of any DOD agency and is anonymous. The DEOCS
is used at the unit level to establish a baseline assessment of the command climate. Subsequent
surveys track progress relative to the baseline.143
Example SAPR Question on Command Climate Survey/DEOCS
Response Scale: 1 = Strongly Disagree 2 = Disagree 3 = Agree 4 = Strongly Agree
82. To what extent does your chain of command:
a. Promote a unit climate based on “respect and trust.”
b. Refrain from sexist comments and behaviors.
c. Actively discourage sexist comments and behaviors.
d. Provide sexual assault prevention and response training that interests and engages you.
e. Encourage bystander intervention to assist others in situations at risk for sexual assault or other harmful
behavior. f. Disseminate information on the outcomes of sexual assault courts-martial occurring within your
Service.
g. Publicize sexual assault report resources (e.g., Sexual Assault Response Coordinator contact information; Victim
Advocate contact information; awareness posters; sexual assault hotline phone number).
h. Publicize the Restricted (confidential) Reporting option for sexual assault
i. Encourage victims to report sexual assault.
j. Create an environment where victims feel comfortable reporting sexual assault
Source: For a full sample DEOCS survey, see https://www.deocs.net/DocDownloads/
SampleDEOCSSurvey12Jan2016.pdf.
The FY2014 NDAA imposed additional requirements on the command climate assessment by
requiring the following:
 Dissemination of assessment results to the next highest level in the chain of
command;
 Inclusion of evidence of compliance with command climate assessment in
commanders’ performance evaluations; and
 Departmental tracking of compliance with required assessments.144

141 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies; Academic Program
Year 2017-2018
, January 25, 2019, p 13-14.
142 P.L. 112-239 §572.
143 Units with less than 50 servicemembers are surveyed with a larger unit in the command to ensure anonymity.
https://www.deomi.org/EOAdvisorToolkit/documents/SecWrightMemo.pdf
144 P.L. 113-66 §§587 and 1721.
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In the FY2015 NDAA, Congress took another step to hold commanders accountable by requiring
that performance appraisals not only include information about whether commanders complied
with required command climate assessments but also whether they had established a climate in
which, (1) allegations of sexual assault are properly managed and fairly evaluated, and (2) a
victim of criminal activity, including sexual assault, can report the criminal activity without fear
of retaliation, including ostracism and group pressure from other members of the command.145
Education and Training
Sexual assault education and training are key components of DOD’s prevention activities.
According to SAPRO, education and training efforts are “designed to improve knowledge, impart
a skill, and/or influence attitudes and behaviors of a target population.”146 Oversight questions
regarding military sexual assault training include the following:
 Is it tailored to the roles and responsibilities of the audience (commanding officers,
first responders, new recruits, etc.)?
 Does the delivery and content meet consistent and evidence-based standards across
military departments?
 Is it designed based on best practices for effective training?
Standardized Training Requirements and Target Audiences
The 2009 report of the congressionally mandated Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the
Military Services (SAMS) noted deficiencies in the curricula, design, and leadership involvement
in SAPR training.147 The task force recommended tailoring training courses to better address the
training needs of new recruits, responders, leadership, and peers. Subsequent congressional
actions and DOD policy changes sought to address many of the task force’s concerns.
In Section 585 of the FY2012 NDAA, Congress required DOD to develop sexual assault
prevention training curricula for specific audiences and new modules for inclusion in each level
of professional military education (PME) to better tailor the training for “new responsibilities and
leadership requirements” as members are promoted.148 This provision also required that DOD
consult experts in the development of the curricula and that training be consistently implemented
across military departments. In fulfillment of the FY2012 NDAA requirements, DOD developed
tailored SAPR training core competencies and learning objectives for specific audiences and
coupled these with recommended adult learning strategies.149
In the FY2013 NDAA, Congress enacted additional training requirements for new or prospective
commanders at all levels of command and for new active and reserve component recruits during
initial entry training.
Further congressional action in FY2014 expanded certain sexual assault prevention training
requirements, requiring them to be taught to service academy cadets and midshipmen within 14

145 P.L. 113-291 §508.
146 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Prevention Program Elements, at
http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/prevention/prevention-program-elements.
147 Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, December 1, 2009.
148 P.L. 112-81.
149 Lists of these core competencies and learning objectives can be accessed at
http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/prevention/prevention-program-elements.
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days after initial arrival and annually thereafter.150 In addition, Section 540 of the FY2016 NDAA
required regular SAPR training for Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (SROTC) instructors
and administrators.
Table 5. Audience and Frequency of Required SAPR Training
Audience
Frequency
New recruits
Within 14 days of initial entrance into active duty or duty status with a
Reserve Component
Service Academy cadets and
Within 14 days of arrival and annually while enrolled
midshipmen
SROTC instructors, commanders, and
Regularlya
other civilian employees
All active and reserve component
Annual refresher training, pre-deployment, post-deployment (within 30
members
days of return), as part of regular PME and leadership development
training (LDT)
Military recruiters
Annually
Responders
Initially upon selection and annual responder refresher training (in
addition to regular annual refresher training)
DOD civilians who supervise
Annually
servicemembers
New commanders
Prior to filling a command position
General/Flag Officers and Senior
Initial executive level program training and annually thereafter
Executive Service
Source: Public Law, DODI 6495.02, http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/649502p.pdf.
Notes: Covered responders include SARCs; SAPR VAs; health care personnel; DOD law enforcement; MCIOs;
judge advocates; chaplains; firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
a. Section 540 of the FY2016 NDAA (P.L. 114-92) requires “regular sexual assault prevention and response
training and education” for SROTC-affiliated personnel but does not specify frequency.
Commanders are responsible for ensuring that training is completed in accordance with all
requirements. The 2009 report of the congressionally mandated Defense Task Force on Sexual
Assault in the Military Services found that many servicemembers felt that leadership involvement
in training is important both to reinforce the commander’s zero tolerance stance and to clarify any
misconceptions with regard to reporting processes and outcomes.151 In addition, the services have
processes in place to monitor and report on the status of completing mandated SAPR training.152
Core Elements of Training
Section 1733 of the FY2014 NDAA (P.L. 113-66) required DOD to review and report on the
adequacy of SAPR training and education provided to members of the Armed Forces. This
provision also required the department to identify “common core elements” to be included in
training or education programs. Current DOD policy requires all secretaries of the military
departments and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to submit a copy of their respective

150 P.L. 113-66 §1746.
151 Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, December 1, 2009.
152 See for example, Army regulations AR 350-1 and AR 600-20.
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SAPR training elements through SAPRO to ensure consistency and compliance with standards,
upon request by USD (P&R).153
For new commanders, statutory training requirements related to prevention include:
 How to foster a command climate that does not tolerate sexual assault, encourages
persons assigned to the command to prevent potential incidents of sexual assault,
and encourages victims of sexual assault to report any incident of sexual assault,
 An understanding of the needs of, and the resources available to, the victim after an
incident of sexual assault,
 How to use military criminal investigative organizations for the investigation of
alleged incidents of sexual assault, and
 Available disciplinary options, including court-martial, non-judicial punishment,
administrative action, and deferral of discipline for collateral misconduct, as
appropriate.154
DOD incorporated specialized leadership sexual assault prevention training for all military
services and components as part of its 2015 strategic plan.155 Other selected elements included in
annual training, new accession training, and professional military education include:
 Definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
 Tips on how to recognize sexual assault.
 Strategies for bystander intervention.
 Penalties for offenders.
 Explanation of rape myths (see box below).
 Definitions of reprisal.
 Available resources for those who have been assaulted.
 Information on the impact of sexual assault on victims, units, and operational
readiness.156
Pre-deployment sexual assault prevention training also includes instruction on the local history,
culture, and religious practices of foreign countries and coalition partners that may be
encountered on deployment.157
What Are “Rape Myths”?
Studies on risk factors for sexual assault perpetration have found correlations with endorsement or acceptance of
“rape myths.”158 Rape myths are widely and persistently held attitudes or beliefs that are sometimes used to justify

153 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Procedures, DODI 6495.02, Incorporating Change
4, Effective September 11, 2020, Enclosure 10, p. 82.
154 P.L. 112-239 §574.
155 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategic Plan, January 26, 2015, p. 5.
156 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Accessions SAPR Training – Core Competencies and
Learning Objectives
, August 9, 2013, p. 4.
157 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Pre-Deployment SAPR Training – Core Competencies and
Learning Objectives
, August 9, 2013.
158 Sarah Michal Greathouse, Jessica Saunders, and Miriam Matthews, et al., A Review of the Literature on Sexual
Assault Perpetrator Characteristics and Behaviors
, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2015, p. 19.
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or excuse sexual aggression.159 Common rape myths include beliefs that, for example, women unconsciously
desire to be raped or are “asking for it,” that rape can only occur between strangers, or that the only victims of
rape are women or gay men. Part of DOD’s SAPR training is focused on dispelling these myths.
The 2019 WGRR survey added questions that attempted to ascertain the extent of rape myth acceptance in the
reserve component. Analysis of survey results indicated low rape myth acceptance overall; however men had
significantly higher acceptance scores than women, and belief in rape myths was higher among men ages 21 and
younger.160 Another statistically significant finding was that men in units where women accounted for less than
10% of their military coworkers were more likely to endorse sexist beliefs than men in units with a higher
percentage of women.161 This finding suggests that efforts to dispel rape myths could be targeted towards younger
servicemembers, and those in service branches, occupational specialties, and units that have lower percentages of
women.
Evaluating Training Effectiveness
There is not a wide body of literature that specifically evaluates the effectiveness, of military
sexual assault and harassment training programs in achieving behavioral outcomes.162 Some
research on college campuses has found that bystander intervention training increases intentions
to help those at risk, and is moderately associated with lowering rape-supportive attitudes and
proclivity.163 A 2015 analysis of Air Force training programs found that military training has
adopted many of the generally accepted best practices (see “Principles of Effective Prevention
Programs” box below), particularly in terms of tailoring the message to the Air Force cultural
context and clearly communicating relevant information. The authors also noted that the Air
Force improved the program between 2005 and 2014. The study, however, also found that a lack
of program evaluation processes limited the ability to judge the effectiveness of training programs
and modifications to those programs.164 Other studies of Navy programs designed to increase
knowledge about sexual violence and rape myths have found modest increases in awareness and
changed perspectives.165
Identifying Risk for Perpetration
Some academic literature suggests that those with a history of coerciveness or assault present a
high risk for committing future assaults.166 Although few studies have been done in the military
context, a study of Navy recruits based on survey data found that men who reported behavior that

159 Kimberly A. Lonsway and Louise F. Fitzgerald, "Rape Myths; In Review," Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol.
18, no. 2 (June 1994).
160 Rachel A. Breslin, Ashlea Klahr , and Kimberly Hylton, et al., 2019 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of
Reserve Component Members
, DOD Office of People Analytics, Overview Report, May 2020, p. xi.
161 Ibid., p. 61.
162 Lindsay M. Orchowski et al., "Evaluations of Sexual Assault Prevention Programs in Military Settings: A Synthesis
of the Research Literature," Military Medicine, vol. 183, no. Issue suppl_1 (March 1, 2018), pp. 421-428. Mark V.
Roehling and Jason Huang, "Sexual harassment training effectiveness: An interdisciplinary review and call for
research," Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 39, no. 2 (January 8, 2018).
163 Jennifer Katz and Jessica Moore, "Bystander Education Training for Campus Sexual Assault Prevention: An Initial
Meta-Analysis," Violence and Victims, vol. 28, no. 6.
164 Christine R. Gedney, David Wood, and Brad Lundahl, et al., “Sexual Assault Prevention Efforts in the U.S. Air
Force: A Systematic Review and Content Analysis,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 1, no. 21 (2015).
165 Lindsay M. Orchowski et al., "Evaluations of Sexual Assault Prevention Programs in Military Settings: A Synthesis
of the Research Literature," Military Medicine, vol. 183, no. Issue suppl_1 (March 1, 2018), pp. 421-428.
166 Margaret C. Harrell, Laura Werber Castaneda, et al., A Compendium of Sexual Assault Research, RAND
Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2009.
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met the criteria for a completed sexual assault prior to their military service were over ten times
more likely to commit or attempt to commit sexual assault in their first year of service than men
who did not commit sexual assault prior to joining the military.167 DOD acknowledges there may
be some servicemembers inclined towards “sexually coercive behavior.” One of the goals of
training is to help those individuals who may exhibit coercive tendencies to identify appropriate
behavior, recognize consequences of their actions, and thus dissuade them from committing
sexual violence. For a smaller subset of individuals, training may not be sufficient to bring about
behavioral change, and other approaches may be necessary to identify and remove potential
perpetrators.168
Entry Screening
Section 504 of Title 10 United States Code, which has been in effect since 1968, prohibits any
person who is “who is insane, intoxicated, or a deserter from an armed force, or who has been
convicted of a felony,” from enlisting in any armed force. However, the statute authorizes the
Secretary of Defense to authorize exceptions in certain meritorious cases. This exercise of
authority has historically been referred to as a moral waiver but may also be referred to as a
conduct or character waiver.169
As DOD requirements for personnel increased between 2001 and 2011 to respond to conflicts in
Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of moral waivers authorized for new recruits also grew—
particularly in the Army and Marine Corps. According to data provided by DOD in response to a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, approximately 18% (127,524) of new enlistees were
granted a moral waiver between 2003 and 2007.170 Over half of these waivers were for traffic or
drug offenses, while serious non-traffic misdemeanors (e.g., assault and petty larceny) accounted
for 35%, and those with felony convictions accounted for approximately 3% of the waivers across
all military services.171 These statistics raised congressional concerns that, by enlisting those with
a history of criminal activity, the military was unnecessarily putting the safety of other
servicemembers at risk. In 2009, a congressionally-mandated report by the Defense Task Force on
Sexual Assault in the Military Services found “no evidence of significantly increased disciplinary
problems because of the use of waivers.”172 Nevertheless, under pressure from various
stakeholders then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates took administrative action in 2009 to prohibit
waivers for those convicted of felony sexual assault.173
In 2013, Congress enacted a provision in the FY2013 NDAA that amended 10 U.S.C. §504 to
prohibit the Secretary of Defense from issuing a moral waiver for commissioning or enlistment in

167 Stephanie K. McWhorter, et al., “Reports of Rape Reperpetration by Newly Enlisted Male Navy Personnel,”
Violence and Victims, vol. 24, no. 2 (2009), p. 218.
168 DOD, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, “2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy – Appendix
B: Defining the Threat and Environment,” April 30, 2014.
169 DOD, Qualification Standards for Enlistment, Appointment, and Induction, DODI 1304.26, March 23, 2015,
Incorporating Change 1, Effective April 6, 2015.
170 Michael Boucai,“Balancing Your Strengths against Your Felonies”: Considerations for Military Recruitment of Ex-
Offenders
, Palm Center, 2007, Tables 2 & 3, pp.41 & 42.
171 Ibid, Table 4, p. 43.
172 This report was required by Section 576 of the FY2005 NDAA (P.L. 108-375). Report of the Defense Task Force on
Sexual Assault in the Military Services
, December 2009, p. J-1.
173U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, "Senate Passes Boxer Amendment to Keep Sex Offenders Out of the Military," press
release, November 29, 2012, http://www.calcasa.org/2012/12/senate-passes-boxer-amendment-to-keep-sex-offenders-
out-of-the-military/.
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the armed forces of any individual who had been convicted of a felony offense of rape, sexual
abuse, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, incest, or any other sexual offense. In the following year’s
NDAA, Congress repealed this provision and replaced it with a new stand-alone statute (10
U.S.C. §657) to prohibit the commissioning or enlistment of individuals who have been convicted
of felony offenses of rape or sexual assault, forcible sodomy, incest, or of an attempt to commit
these offenses.174 A later 2017 study of Army administrative data on male sexual assault
perpetration found that perpetration of any crime in the prior 12 to 24 months were predictors of
intra-family and non-family sexual assault perpetration.175 This study provides some evidence to
support entry screening for criminal offenses and enhanced scrutiny for in-service criminal
offenses, including offenses unrelated to sexual misconduct.
While entry-level background checks may screen out those convicted of criminal acts, it is more
challenging to screen for high-risk behavior, tendencies, or harmful attitudes towards sexual
violence. Other opportunities to screen for problematic behavior or attitudes could include entry-
level attitudes surveys, interview questions for Service Academy nominations, or congressional
hearing questions for senior defense position nominees requiring Senate confirmation.176
Identifying Serial Offenders
In 2013, Congress sought to increase commanders’ visibility of individuals with past sex-related
offenses. A provision enacted as part of the FY2104 NDAA required notation in the member’s
service record if action had been taken against them for a sex-related offense.177 The law further
requires commanders to review the service record of members under their command for a history
of sex-related offenses.
In light of evidence suggesting that some perpetrators commit multiple sexual assaults before
getting caught, DOD took further action and launched the Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH)
program in August 2019. The purpose of this program is to identify repeat offenders through
confidential data-matching. The program is also structured in a way that is intended to encourage
victims to participate in the military justice system to bring these repeat offenders to justice and
prevent them from harming others. Under DOD policies, a military sexual assault victim may
submit a confidential restricted report and receive counseling and other services without notifying
his or her commander or military investigative authorities. The report may later be converted to
an unrestricted report, which does initiate an investigation and the military justice process (see
“Restricted vs. Unrestricted Reporting”).
According to SAPRO, CATCH allows sexual assault victims who filed a restricted report to
discover if the suspect in their restricted report may have also assaulted another person (a
“match” in the CATCH website).178 With this knowledge, the victim can then decide whether to

174 P.L. 113-66. See also DOD, Qualification Standards for Enlistment, Appointment, and Induction, DODI 1304.26,
March 23, 2015, Incorporating Change 1, Effective April 6, 2015.
175 Anthony J. Rosellini et al., "Predicting Sexual Assault Perpetration in the US Army Using Administrative Data,"
American Journal of Precentative Medicine, vol. 53, no. 5 (November 2017), pp. 661-669.
176 There is an adverse information reporting process for congressional nomination packages. See discussion
inMargaret C. Harrell and William M. Hix, Managing Adverse and Reportable Information Regarding General and
Flag Officers
, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2012, https://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1088.html.
177 P.L. 113-66 §1745. The covered actions under this provision are court-martial conviction, non-judicial punishment,
or punitive administrative action.
178 DOD SAPRO, Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH) Program Victim Info Sheet,
https://www.sapr.mil/sites/default/files/public/images/icons/SAPRO_Catch_A_Serial_Offender_Program_%28CATCH
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convert their restricted report to unrestricted, thereby initiating an investigation of the serial
offender suspect. Each entry in the database is maintained for 10 years. A provision in the
FY2020 NDAA further protects CATCH program information from public disclosure through
FOIA requests.179 This FY2020 NDAA provision also ensures that transmittal or receipt of
information from restricted reports to the CATCH program would not affect the report's status as
restricted and thus would maintain victim confidentiality. Between the launch of the CATCH
program in August 2019 and the release of the FY2019 annual report, there were 239 victim
reports in the CATCH program and five matches.180
Victim Protection, Advocacy and Support Services
A third area of congressional focus is the provision of protection, advocacy and support services
for victims of sexual assault—those currently serving and those who have been discharged or
retired from military service. Although this report does not include congressional actions with
relation to veteran services for victims of military sexual assault, it does include provisions
associated with military discharges and the correction of discharge paperwork. While this section
focuses on DOD services to victims of sexual assault, servicemembers may also be eligible for
DOJ-funded programs in their respective states of residence.181
Congressional actions to protect and support victims of sexual assault fall under four main
categories.
 Ensuring victim privacy and safety;
 Ensuring accessible and adequate medical and mental health services;
 Developing legal assistance programs for victims; and
 Protecting victims from retaliation or other adverse actions.
Victim Privacy and Safety
The 2004 DOD task force found that military victims of sexual assault were often reluctant to
report the incident. One of the main reasons cited was a perceived lack of confidentiality.182
Victims also cited concerns about the impartiality of the command’s response and the potential
for retaliatory actions. Following this review, DOD implemented a number of policies and
strategies to help improve confidentiality of reporting and to provide victims with a safe
environment for seeking care and legal assistance. At the same time, Congress initiated a series of
legislative requirements to strengthen victim support and protection.

%29_Slick_Sheet_Rd06.pdf.
179 P.L. 116-92 §550. For more on FOIA, see CRS Report R41933, The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):
Background, Legislation, and Policy Issues
, by Meghan M. Stuessy.
180 DOD, FY2019 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, p. 16.
181 For more information on DOJ programs, please see, CRS Report R42672, The Crime Victims Fund: Federal
Support for Victims of Crime
, by Lisa N. Sacco, and CRS Report R42499, The Violence Against Women Act: Overview,
Legislation, and Federal Funding
, by Lisa N. Sacco.
182 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Sexual Assault in the
Military: Victim Support and Advocacy
, 111th Cong., 1st sess., January 28, 2009, H.A.S.C. 111-4 (Washington: GPO,
2010), p. 68.
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Restricted vs. Unrestricted Reporting
In 2005, DOD instituted a restricted reporting option for sexual assault victims. This option is
intended to help victims receive needed support services while maintaining a certain level of
privacy. When a victim chooses to make a restricted report, he or she discloses the incident to
specified individuals and may then gain confidential access to medical health, mental health, and
victim advocacy services. The official then reports incident data to SAPRO for inclusion in DOD
sexual assault statistics. The command is notified that an alleged sexual assault occurred;
however, personally identifiable information of the victim and alleged offender are not provided.
Restricted reporting may not be an available option in certain jurisdictions based on state laws, or
if there is a serious or imminent threat posed by the alleged offender.183
An individual can choose to convert a restricted report to an unrestricted report at any time and
has the right to receive counseling on these two options from a victim advocate prior to selecting
an option. 184 When an unrestricted report is made where the victim, the subject or both are
servicemembers, the respective servicemember’s commanding officer is notified and a Military
Criminal Investigative Office (MCIO) begins a formal investigation. Processes following a
restricted or unrestricted report are shown in Figure 4.

183 Section 536 of the FY2016 NDAA preempts mandatory reporting laws and preserves the restricted reporting option,
provided the victim first reports to a Military Treatment Facility. 10 U.S.C. §1565b(b)(3).
184 According to DOD policies, following counseling the alleged victim is given the opportunity to review and sign a
DD Form 2910, “Victim Reporting Preference Statement.”
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Figure 4. DOD Actions Following Restricted & Unrestricted Reports

Source: CRS, derived from DODI 6495.02.
Note: Red indicates the filing of a restricted or unrestricted report. Dark blue indicates an initial action by the
victim.
DOD has deemed the option for restricted reporting “critical” to the SAPR program, as a
mechanism to increase the number of victims receiving support services, and to encourage
conversions to unrestricted reports and subsequent participation in the military justice process.185
In addition, victims, health practitioners, and advocates have generally shared positive feedback
concerning the availability of a restricted reporting option. A rape victim advocate stated in a
2009 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Victim Support and Advocacy,
You heard earlier folks were talking about an increase in a number of reports, whether
restricted or unrestricted is a good thing. …We think that is a good thing. When those
numbers are going up, those are fundamentally a positive move. Because it means that,
number one, those folks are getting services. Number two, it means that there is an
atmosphere and environment in which people believe that they can come forward, that they
are safe in doing so. And so if restricted reporting enhances that, we are absolutely all for
it.186

185 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Sexual Assault in the
Military: Victim Support and Advocacy
, 111th Cong., 1st sess., January 28, 2009, H. Hrg. 111-4 (Washington: GPO,
2010), p. 70.
186 Statement by Robert Coombs, Director of Public Affairs, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. U.S.
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Safe-to-Report Policy
Victims of sexual assault may be hesitant to report the assault for a number of reasons, including fear of retaliation
or disciplinary action for associated misconduct. For example, the alleged assault could have occurred in a
situation where the victim was drinking underage or engaging in other prohibited activities. A victim may be
reluctant to report an assault if there is a possibility of the investigation uncovering collateral misconduct.
According to active duty survey data for 2018, 34% of women and 26% of men who experienced a sexual
assault did not report the assault because they "thought they might get in trouble for something they had done or
would get labeled a troublemaker."187
Several of the military service academies have implemented what they call a Safe-to-Report policy.188 This policy is
intended to remove disincentives for alleged victims to report sexual assault incidents by protecting cadets and
midshipmen from punishment for minor collateral misconduct violations that might be uncovered during an
investigation. The House and Senate-passed bills for the FY2020 NDAA included provisions that would have
required the Secretary of Defense to implement a Safe to Report policy across the Armed Forces.189 The
requirement that the Secretary of Defense promulgate a policy was not included in the final bill; however, the
enacted law required a report to the Armed Services Committee “setting forth an assessment of the feasibility and
advisability of expanding the applicability of the safe to report policy.”190
A safe-to-report provision was enacted in the FY2021 NDAA.191 This provision would define minor collateral
misconduct as, (1) improper use or possession of alcohol, (2) consensual intimate behavior (including adultery) or
fraternization192, (3) presence in an off-limits area, and (4) such other misconduct as the Secretary of Defense shall
specify in the regulations.
Transfers and Military Protective Orders
In order to protect the safety and well-being of sexual assault victims, Congress has enacted laws
to encourage the development of policies and guidance for use of humanitarian transfers and
military protective orders (MPOs) which are similar to civilian protective orders (see discussion
below). Currently, when a victim makes a restricted report, he or she cannot receive an MPO
against the assailant or seek expedited transfer to a different unit or base. If the victim initiates an
unrestricted report or changes his or her restricted report to an unrestricted report, he or she may
then request an expedited transfer or MPO.193

Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Sexual Assault in the Military:
Victim Support and Advocacy
, 111th Cong., 1st sess., January 28, 2009, p. 41.
187 DOD, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members, Overview Report, May 2019, p. 36,
https://www.sapr.mil/sites/default/files/Annex_1_2018_WGRA_Overview_Report.pdf.
188 The U.S. Air Force Academy implemented the policy in Academic Program Year (APY) 2017-18 and modeled it
after a similar Naval Academy policy. Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service
Academies (MSAs) for Academic Program Year (APY) 2017-2018
, Appendix C: United States Air Force Academy,
January 25, 2019, p. 4.
189 H.R. 2500 §550 and S. 1790 §§ 527 and 528.
190 P.L. 116-92 §540H.
191 P.L. 116-283 §526
192 Adultery and fraternization may be punishable under the general article in the UCMJ (Article 134); Manual for
Courts-martial (MCM) Chapters 62 and 83.
193 DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, “Unrestricted Reporting,” accessed August 2016:
http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/unrestricted-reporting.
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Expedited Transfers
In 2004, Congress noted that DOD did not have standard policies or protocols for removal or
transfer of an alleged victim from a unit when the alleged attacker was part of the same unit or the
victim’s chain of command.194 The issue of transfers for victims of sexual assault was again
raised in a 2010 hearing as a possible way to protect victims from retaliation and encourage
victim reporting.195 In the FY2011 NDAA, Congress added a provision that required the Secretary
concerned to provide timely consideration of an application for permanent change of station or
change of duty assignment by a victim of sexual assault or related offense.196 DOD implemented
this “expedited transfer” policy in February 2012197 with the stated purpose to,
address situations where a victim feels safe, but uncomfortable. An example of where a
victim feels uncomfortable is where a victim may be experiencing ostracism and
retaliation. The intent behind the Expedited Transfer policy is to assist in the victim’s
recovery by moving the victim to a new location, where no one knows of the sexual
assault.198
Under DOD regulations, the commanding officer or SARC may also recommend/support a
victim’s transfer there is a concern over personal safety. Under the expedited transfer policy,
temporary or permanent transfers may be authorized to a new duty location on the same
installation, or a different installation. The servicemember’s transfer may include the member’s
dependents and military spouse for transfers to a different installation. If a servicemember’s
request for transfer is disapproved by the commanding officer, the individual has the right to have
the request reviewed by a general or flag officer in their chain of command (or the civilian
equivalent).
Although some advocacy groups have argued that the expedited transfer option is a positive
support measure for victims, they have also raised concerns about the implementation, citing
cases of delays and denials.199 In addition, some of the same groups have raised concerns that the
transfer might actually be perceived as punishing the victim rather than the alleged perpetrator. In
a 2013 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, a witness from the organization Protect Our
Defenders described this problem,
We find while it is a good thing at times, expedited transfer requests, some victims say,
yes, I was offered an expedited transfer, but to a job less than what I have now. Why am I
being punished for being protected and trying to be sent off base? I am now being asked to

194 General Casey: “No, sir. In fact, I would tell you that we have no specific policy that dictates either the victim or the
accused should be removed from that command. We don’t dictate that. We leave that up to the commander on the scene
to make an evaluation.” U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Personnel, Policies
and Programs for Preventing and Responding to Incidents of Sexual Assault in the Armed Services
, 108th Cong., 2nd
sess., February 25, 2004, S. Hrg. 108-799 (Washington: GPO, 2005), p. 173.
195 Representative Jane Harman: “And on the safety issue, there are some specific recommendations that I think could
have been in your report and weren’t. For example, facilitating base transfer, which would encourage a lot of women to
come forward who would otherwise be afraid to do so.” U.S. Congress, House Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sexual Assault in the Military Part IV:
Are we Making Progress
, 111th Cong., 2nd sess., February 24, 2010, 111-73 (Washington: GPO, 2010).
196 P.L. 112-81 §582, codified in 10 U.S.C §673.
197 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Pending Legislation Regarding Sexual Assaults in the
Military
, 113th Cong., 1st sess., June 4, 2013, S. Hrg. 113-320 (Washington: GPO, 2014), p., 100.
198 DODI 6495.02, p. 51.
199 Karisa King, “Assault Victims Struggle to Transfer to Other Posts,” mySA, May 20, 2013, at
http://www.mysanantonio.com/twice-betrayed/article/Assault-victims-struggle-to-transfer-to-other-4532717.php.
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make sandwiches for the pilots when once I was on another track in a successful career.
Why do I have to leave? Why can’t he leave?200
In response to this concern, Congress sought to clarify the military commander’s ability to
transfer the alleged perpetrator to another unit following an unrestricted report of a sex-related
offense. The authority for DOD to establish guidelines for these transfers was enacted in the
FY2014 NDAA and codified in 10 U.S.C. §674. Commanders may also take other actions to
remove an accused military offender from his or her position, to place him or her in pre-trial
confinement, or to issue a military protective order. The total number of requested expedited
transfers for victims has trended upward since FY2012 (see Table 6). On average, less than 4% of
requests for transfer between FY2012 and FY2019 have been denied.
Table 6. Expedited Transfers and Denials
FY2012 – FY2019
Transfer Type
Victims
FY12
FY13
FY14
FY15
FY16
FY17
FY18
FY19
Change of
Number
57
99
44
71
62
74
67
89
unit/duty
requesting
assignment
(within
Number
2
3
0
2
3
5
2
5
installation)
denied
Number
161
480
615
663
684
760
835
810
Permanent
requesting
change of station
Number
0
11
15
12
16
30
30
24
denied
Source: DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2019, Appendix B: Statistical Data on
Sexual Assault, p. 33.
Notes: DOD reports do not include data on the number of transfers for alleged perpetrators.
According to DOD survey data from 2016-2017, about half of victim respondents indicated that
certain aspects of their lives were better than before following a transfer – in particular, treatment
by leadership and peers.201 However, 29% reported that their career progression was worse than
before the transfer (see Figure 5).

200 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Pending Legislation Regarding Sexual Assaults in the
Military
, 113th Cong., 1st sess., June 4, 2013, S. Hrg. 113-320 (Washington: GPO, 2014), p. 204.
201 DOD, Office of People Analytics, 2016-2017 Military Investigation and Justice Experience Survey (MIJES),
Overview Report; OPA Report No. 2017-027, January 2018.
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Figure 5. Aspects of Life Following Expedited Transfer
2016-2017 Survey Data

Source: DOD, Office of People Analytics, 2016-2017 Military Investigation and Justice Experience Survey (MIJES),
Overview Report; OPA Report No. 2017-027, January 2018, p. 54
Notes: Treatment by leadership does not add to 100% due to rounding.
In February 2020, DOD issued revised expedited transfer procedures with the intent of improving
victim safety measures and continuity of care. The new guidance incorporates “out-brief and
intake meetings with the servicemember victim to explain the full range of support options
available at the new installation, facilitate appointments with response personnel, and help answer
any questions.”202
Military Service Academy Students and Transfers
Unlike those in active service, the expedited transfer authority does not apply for cadets and
midshipmen who are students at the military service academies. This is in part due to the unique
status of the academies as the only full-time, degree granting and commissioning program for
each of the military departments. Cadets and midshipmen at the military service academies are
organized into gender-integrated units of roughly 100 individuals called companies or
squadrons.203 These companies and squadrons share common spaces in the dormitories or
barracks and are the locus for professional military development as well as social activities.
Those who are victims of a sexual assault may have the option of transferring to another company
or squadron to provide some physical separation from an alleged attacker, and to avoid further
distress to the victim. Additionally, academy policies allow for victim of assault to request a leave

202 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2019, April 28, 2020, p. 19. The new policy also
allows for the transfer of a servicemember when the adult dependent of the member has been sexually assaulted in a
non-domestic violence case.
203 Much of the student’s military professional development is conducted within these units which are housed together
in dormitories/barracks.
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of absence (typically up to one year) to enable them to concentrate on physical or psychological
well-being and/or to participate in any investigative or judicial processes.204
A proposal in the House-passed version of the FY2019 NDAA would have allowed cadets and
midshipmen from the military service academies who are victims of sexual assault to apply for a
transfer to one of the other service academies.205 While this proposal was not adopted in the final
bill the conference report noted, “The Conferees believe that providing an option for a cadet or
midshipman, who was sexually assaulted, to request a transfer to another academy should be
explored,” and directed DOD to study the feasibility of establishing such a process.206 The
FY2020 NDAA included a provision requiring the Service Secretaries to consider requests for
transfers from cadets or midshipmen who are victims of sexual assault within 72 hours of
receiving the request.207 Under this provision, a cadet or midshipman may request a transfer to
another service academy or request to enroll in a Senior Reserve Officer Training (SROTC)
program at another educational institution.208
Military Protective Order
A military protective order (MPO) is a lawful order issued by a commanding officer, prohibiting
the accused servicemember from contact or communication with the protected person or members
of the protected person’s family or household.209 A servicemember must obey an MPO at all
times, whether inside or outside a military installation; a violation may make them subject to
court martial or other punitive measures. An MPO remains in effect until the military commander
terminates the order or issues a replacement order.210 A victim of sexual assault may also seek and
be awarded a civilian protection order (CPO) through the civilian judicial system. By statute, a
CPO has full force and effect on military installations within the jurisdiction of the court that
issues the order.211 However, MPOs are not enforceable by civilian law authorities. Therefore, a
victim of sexual assault – particularly a reservist or dual status technician – may work in a
civilian office, with his or alleged attacker, where the MPO cannot be enforced. 212
Congressional concerns about this lapse of protection have led to legislation to encourage
coordination between military and civilian authorities. To encourage such coordination, a
provision in the FY2009 NDAA required DOD to notify appropriate civilian authorities when a
military commander issues an MPO.213 The installation commander may also develop a

204 For the U.S. Naval Academy policy, see USNA Instruction 1050.02 at
https://www.usna.edu/AdminSupport/_files/documents/instructions/1000-1999/USNAINST-1050.2-Procedures-and-
Instructions-for-Victims-of-Sexual-Assault-to-Request-Leave-of-Absence.pdf.
205 There are three military service academies, the United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy,
and United States Military Academy (West Point).
206 H.Rept. 115-863.
207 P.L. 116-92 §555.
208 For more information on SROTC, see CRS In Focus IF11235, Defense Primer: Senior Reserve Officer Training
Corps
, by Kristy N. Kamarck.
209 Military Protective Order, Form DD 2873, at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/forms/eforms/dd2873.pdf.
210 10 U.S.C. §1567.
211 10 U.S.C. §1561a.
212 Dual-status technicians are Federal civilian employees, who are employed under Section 3101 of title 5 or Section
709(b) of title 32 United States Code and are also required to maintain membership in the Selected Reserve.
213 P.L. 110-417 §562.
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memorandum of understanding with local police to detain an individual who may have violated
an MPO until military police can respond.214
An MPO is only issued in the case of an unrestricted report of sexual assault, as restricted reports
cannot be made when there is a safety risk for the victim. Since FY2010, Congress has required
DOD to track, for each sexual assault case, whether an MPO was issued (involving either the
alleged victim or perpetrator) and whether any MPOs were violated.215 According to DOD data,
reports of MPO violations are rare, with less than 1% of all MPOs violated in FY2019 (see Table
7
)
.
Table 7. Reported Military Protective Order (MPO) Violations
FY2018 & FY2019

FY2018
FY2019
Total MPOs issued
1,010
848
Total Violations
11
6
Violation by alleged perpetrator
8
6
Violation by alleged victim
1
0
Violation by both
2
0
Source: DOD, Annual Reports on Sexual Assault in the Military for FY2018 and FY2019, Appendix D:
Aggregate DOD Data Matrices.
Victim Medical Care
While serving, military members are eligible to receive a broad range of medical and mental
health services through the military health system.216 This includes services immediately
following a sexual assault and longer-term services as needed. Those who retire from the military
may continue to receive military health services if enrolled in the TRICARE program. Those who
are discharged from the military before retirement eligibility may be eligible to receive health
care services related to military sexual trauma from the VA.217 Questions that Congress has raised
about medical care for victims of sexual assault include:
 Do military medical professionals have the appropriate training and resources to
respond to the health needs of different victim demographics?

214 DOD, Domestic Abuse Involving DOD military and Certain Affiliated Personnel, DODI 6400.06, May 26, 2017.
215 In some instances, the facts of the case may be in dispute and either or both of the alleged perpetrator and alleged
victim may seek, or be advised to seek, an MPO from a commanding officer. P.L. 111-84 §567(c).
216 See CRS In Focus IF10530, Defense Primer: Military Health System, by Bryce H. P. Mendez.
217 Veterans may be eligible for VA health care related to military sexual trauma (MST) even if they are not eligible for
other VA services. For the purpose of accessing VA treatment, Section 17020d of Title 38 United States Code defines
MST as, “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical
assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was
serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.” See https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/
msthome.asp for more information. For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11378, Veterans Health Administration:
Behavioral Health Services
, by Victoria R. Green.
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 Do the types of military medical and mental health services offered to victims,
including emergency contraceptive services, reflect evidence-based best practices
for victim treatment and rehabilitation?218
 Are appropriate medical services broadly available and accessible to victims of
assault, particularly when the assault occurs in a deployed or operational setting?
 Are adequate programs in place to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
and comorbid conditions resulting from military sexual trauma?
In some cases, caregivers at a military or civilian medical facility might be the first point of
contact for a victim of military sexual assault. Medical staff provide victims with urgent medical
assistance and may, with the victim’s permission, administer a sexual assault forensic
examination (SAFE).219 When Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act in 2005,
provisions were added to ensure that victims could not be charged for medical forensic exams,
commonly referred to as “rape kits.”220 In 2006, Congress authorized TRICARE coverage for
forensic examinations following a sexual assault or domestic violence.221 DOD is required to save
the evidence from the SAFE for five years in case of an investigation.222
The FY2011 NDAA required DOD to establish “comprehensive and consistent protocols for
providing and documenting medical care to a member of the Armed Forces or covered
beneficiary who is a victim of a sexual assault, including protocols with respect to the appropriate
screening, prevention, and mitigation of diseases.”223 This provision noted that gender should be
considered in these protocols. The FY2012 NDAA required a review of women-specific health
services in DOD including the availability of services for female victims of sexual assault or
abuse.224 The resulting GAO report found some availability and standardization issues. In
particular, GAO noted challenges across the services in providing comprehensive and consistent
medical and health services in deployed environments, and recommended improved guidance for
care providers. 225 DOD’s current regulations include instructions for combatant commanders to:
(a) Require that victims of sexual assault in deployed locations within their area of
responsibility are transported to an appropriate evaluation site, evaluated, treated for
injuries (if any), and offered SAPR VA assistance and a SAFE as quickly as possible.
(b) Require that U.S. theater hospital facilities (Level 3, NATO role 3)…have appropriate
capability to provide experienced and trained SARC and SAPR VA services and SAFE
providers, and that victims of sexual assault, regardless of reporting status, are medically

218 For more on contraception and other military reproductive health services, see CRS In Focus IF11109, Defense
Health Primer: Contraceptive Services
, by Bryce H. P. Mendez, and CRS Report WPD00029, Military and Veteran
Reproductive Health Services
, by Kristy N. Kamarck, Bryce H. P. Mendez, and Jared S. Sussman.
219 DD Form 2911, “DOD Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Report” is used for documentation.
220 For more information on this legislation see CRS Report R42499, The Violence Against Women Act: Overview,
Legislation, and Federal Funding
, by Lisa N. Sacco.
221 P.L. 109-364 §701.
222 32 C.F.R. §105.12, SAFE Kit Collection and Preservation.
223 P.L. 111-383 §1621.
224 P.L. 112-81 §725.
225 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Military Personnel: DOD Has Taken Steps to Meet the Health Needs of
Deployed Servicewomen, but Actions Are Needed to Enhance Care for Sexual Assault Victims
, GAO-13-182, January
2013, https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/651624.pdf.
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evacuated to such facilities as soon as possible of making a report, consistent with
operational needs.226
Concerns about male victims of sexual assault prompted the House in 2013 to call for a review of
DOD’s policies and protocols for the provision of medical and mental health care for male
servicemembers.227 The resulting GAO report found that DOD's health affairs office “has not
systematically evaluated, using various available sources of information, the extent to which
either male or female victims of sexual assault have any gender-specific needs or whether the
department’s current care is sufficiently developed to ensure that such needs are met.”228 In
response to the GAO’s report and recommendations, DOD highlighted some ongoing efforts to
provide gender-specific treatment; for example, male-only therapy groups, and enhanced medical
staff training on responding to and treating male victims.
To address concerns about the availability of trained forensic examiners, Congress required in the
FY2014 NDAA that at least one full-time sexual assault forensic examiner be assigned to each
military treatment facility (MTF) that operates a 24-hour emergency room.229 In addition, the law,
as amended, requires that the secretary of the military department concerned to make a sexual
assault forensic examiner available to patients at other facilities under its purview when needed.
Beyond the response to these short-term needs, victims of sexual assault often require longer-term
care for associated physical and psychological effects. These may include unplanned pregnancy,
side-effects of emergency contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, anxiety, depression, and
PTSD. The after-effects of the incident might also be associated with negative behavioral changes
in the victim, such as increased drug or alcohol use, poor work performance, or other disciplinary
issues. The FY2019 NDAA authorized a pilot program to “to assess the feasibility and
advisability of using intensive outpatient programs” to treat victims of sexual assault for PTSD
and comorbid conditions.230 When members transition out of the military, they may also be
eligible for behavioral health services through the Veteran’s Health Administration.231
According to DOD’s 2014 Survivor Experience Survey, 49% of respondents indicated that they
had interacted with a medical provider and 71% indicated that they had spoken with a mental
health provider following a sexual assault incident. The survey data also suggest that sexual
assault survivors generally have high levels of satisfaction with military medical and mental
health care services and with the providers with whom they interact. Over 75% of the survey
respondents who received care at MTFs indicated that they were satisfied with the medical and
mental health services they received, while 8% reported that they were dissatisfied.232 In addition,

226 DODI 6495.02, p. 72.
227 H.R. Rep. No. 113-102, p. 149.
228 GAO, Military Personnel: Actions Needed to Address Sexual Assaults of Male Servicemembers, GAO-14-284,
March 19, 2015, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-284.
229 P.L. 113-66 §1725(b).
230 P.L. 115-232 §702; 10 U.S.C. §1092 note.
231 For more on veteran services see, CRS In Focus IF11082, Veterans Health Administration: Gender-Specific Health
Care Services for Women Veterans
, by Victoria L. Elliott, and CRS In Focus IF11378, Veterans Health Administration:
Behavioral Health Services
, by Victoria R. Green.
232 Among the survey respondents, 24% received medical care at a military hospital, medical center or another military
medical treatment facility. Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, Lindsay Rock, and Margaret H. Coffey, et al., 2014 Survivor
Experience Survey: Report on Preliminary Results Fiscal Year 2014, Quarter 4
, Defense Manpower Data Center,
October 2014, p. ix.
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a majority of the respondents treated at MTFs had positive and professional experiences with
their medical or mental health provider.233
Helpline Support
In 2011, DOD launched the “Safe Helpline,” a 24/7 helpline accessible worldwide, to provide
confidential crisis support and information for the DOD community.234 The helpline provides
“live, one-on-one, specialized support and information” intended for adult servicemembers in the
Active and Reserve Components as well as Coast Guard members. It offers a number of different
ways to interact with Helpline staff including phone, text, a moderated online chat group (Safe
HelpRoom) for sexual assault survivors, and an app for creating a personalized self-care plan.235
Safe Helpline Contact Information
The Safe Helpline is available at 1-877-995-5247, or via instant-message chat at https://hotline.safehelpline.org.
SAPRO oversees the operation of the helpline through a contract with the Rape, Abuse & Incest
National Network (RAINN).236 Staff members serving the DOD community are trained in
military-specific policies and procedures such as restricted and unrestricted reporting processes,
and are able to connect victims with appropriate military resources and victim advocates.
Survivor Experience Survey results from 2014 indicated that 54% of the respondents—
individuals who had experienced a sexual assault—were aware of the DOD Safe Helpline prior to
the assault. In addition, 49% were aware of an installation-based 24-hour helpline, and 33% were
aware of a local civilian 24-hour helpline.237
Safe Helpline usage has rapidly increased since FY2014, due in part to outreach efforts by
DOD.238 FY2019 data also indicate that approximately one-third of all victims disclosed the
assault for the first time on the Helpline and 59% of users had not yet made a sexual assault
report.239 Data have also shown that men are more likely than women to disclose their assault for
the first time using the Helpline, and are more likely to express concerns about others finding out
about the assault.240
Legal Assistance and Victim Advocacy
One of the most extensive efforts undertaken to strengthen support for sexual assault victims is
the enhancement of legal assistance and victim advocate services. Pursuing accountability for
perpetrators through the criminal justice system can be challenging and time-consuming for
victims of sexual assault. Victims often have to repeat their story several times and must navigate

233 Ibid.
234 The Safe Helpline is available at 1-877-995-5247, or via instant-message chat at https://hotline.safehelpline.org.
235 See https://www.safehelpline.org/about-dod-safe-helpline, for additional details.
236 For more information see https://safehelpline.org/about.
237 Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, Lindsay Rock, and Margaret H. Coffey, et al., 2014 Survivor Experience Survey: Report
on Preliminary Results Fiscal Year 2014, Quarter 4
, Defense Manpower Data Center, October 2014, p. v.
238 In FY2019, there were 36,966 users, an increase of 65% from FY2018. DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in
the Military Fiscal Year 2019
, Appendix E., April 28, 2020, p. 1.
239 Ibid., p. 2
240 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.
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unfamiliar legal processes while dealing with the physical and emotional after-effects of the
assault.241
In the FY2011 NDAA, Congress enacted provisions that entitled members of the armed services
and dependents who are victims of sexual assault to (1) legal assistance by a military or civilian
counsel— now known as a special victim counsel (SVC) or victims’ legal counsel (VLC),242 (2)
assistance provided by a sexual assault response coordinator (SARC), and (3) assistance provided
by a sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate SAPR-VA.243 (See shaded box
below).
Under this legislation, a victim must be notified of the right to receive (or decline) these services
whether he or she has made a restricted or an unrestricted report. The law also requires a
minimum of one full-time SARC and one full-time SAPR-VA to be assigned to each brigade or
equivalent level in the armed forces.244
Who is part of a sexual assault victim’s support team?
Special Victims’ Counsel/Victims Legal Counsel (SVC/VLC). A judge advocate or civilian attorney who is
a member of the bar of a Federal court or of the highest court of a State and satisfies all SVCs statutory training
requirements. The SVC provides legal assistance to the victim, represents the victim’s best interests, and ensures
that the victim is aware of his or her rights throughout the military justice process. (10 U.S.C. §§1044, 1044e and
1565b)
Sexual assault response coordinator (SARC). An individual in the armed forces or a civilian DOD employee
appointed by an installation commander or appropriate appointment authority. SARCs are required to complete
specialized training and are subject to criminal background checks. The SARC serves as a single point of contact
for coordinating and documenting sexual assault response and victim care and reports directly to the installation
commander. The SARC also coordinates annual training and education programs. (10 U.S.C. §1565b, DODI
6495.02 & 6495.03)
Sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate (SAPR-VA). A volunteer servicemember or
DOD civilian employee who has completed Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP)
certification requirements and reports directly to the SARC. The SAPR-VA facilitates care and provides referrals
and non-clinical support to adult victims of sexual assault. SAPR-VA representatives are subject to criminal
background checks. (10 U.S.C. §1565b, DODI 6495.02 & 6495.03)
Others including military chaplains, health care providers, and mental health and counseling
providers.

SARCs and SAPR-VAs; Training and Standards
In 2005, DOD initiated a victim care response system that created the support roles of sexual
assault response coordinator (SARC) and sexual assault prevention and response victim
advocates (SAPR-VA). While there was broad agreement that this new program provided

241 “Even if they do have an unrestricted report, it is difficult to get victims to stay with the military criminal justice
process. You heard early testimony that when they tell their story if they go unrestricted, they may tell their stories 25,
30 times. It is very painful, and they drop out. So we have taken some measures, too, in terms of training SARCs to
support victims throughout the military criminal justice process to get them to stay with it so we can hold the offender
accountable.” See U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Sexual
Assault in the Military: Victim Support and Advocacy
, 111th Cong., 1st sess., January 28, 2009, H.Hrg. 111-4
(Washington: GPO, 2010), p. 46. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111hhrg49634/pdf/CHRG-
111hhrg49634.pdf, p. 46.
242 The Navy and Marine Corps refer to this legal representative as a Victims’ Legal Counsel while the Army, Air
Force, National Guard and Coast Guard refer to the representative as a Special Victims’ Counsel.
243 P.L. 112-81 §581.
244 P.L. 112-81 §583. A brigade is an Army unit with 3,000 to 5,000 assigned individuals.
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valuable victim support, concerns remained that it was unevenly implemented. In particular there
were lower levels of support available for deployed units, victims were unaware of their rights to
support, SARC/SAPR-VA training was not fully standardized, and challenges remained in
soliciting volunteers to act in these roles as a collateral duty.
The FY2012 NDAA required DOD to establish standardized training for SARCs and victim
advocates to help improve the quality of services received by sexual assault victims.245 In
response, DOD established the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification
Program (D-SAACP). The National Organization for Victim Assistance, Incorporated manages
this certification program for DOD. According to DOD, the D-SAACP provides 1) a credentialing
structure for SARCs and victim advocates, a competencies framework, and oversight and
evaluation of training. Applicants are required to complete 40 hours of initial training to become
certified and 32 hours of continuing education every 2 years to maintain certification.246
In 2013, the Department also established the Victim Assistance Leadership Council.247 This
council “advises the Secretary of Defense on policies and practices across four programs: sexual
assault prevention and response, family advocacy, victim-witness assistance, and sexual
harassment.”248 The roles of this council include promoting efficiencies, coordinating victim
assistance policies and assessing the implementation of victim assistance standards (including
competency, ethical, and foundational standards).249
DOD tracks the number of full-time, certified support staff as an annual metric for program
assessment. In FY2019, there were 1,380 full-time SARCs and SAPR-VAs across DOD.250
Civilians accounted for 58% of these. Navy and Marine Corps only had civilians staffing these
positions. The services also reported having uniformed servicemembers serving in these positions
as collateral duties to their primary occupations.
Special Victims Counsel (SVC)
In 2013, Congress enacted specific criteria for the SVC program for the purpose of providing
legal assistance.251 The Judicial Proceedings Panel (JPP) reviewed the special victims counsel
program in 2014. In the panel’s February 2015 report, they expressed concerns about the
following:
 statutory requirements linking duty status to entitlement for SVC legal services,
potentially excluding some reserve component servicemembers from SVC program
eligibility;

245 P.L. 112-81 §584.
246 DOD Sexual Assault Advocate Certifications Program (D-SAACP), at https://www.sapr.mil/d-saacp. See also
https://www.trynova.org/credentialing/d-saacp-dod/.
247 DOD, Standards for Victim Assistance Services in the Military Community, DODI 6400.07, November 25, 2013,
https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/640007p.pdf.
248 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2016, Appendix A: FY1206 Line of Effort
Highlights, May 1, 2017, p. 4.
249 DOD, Standards for Victim Assistance Services in the Military Community, DODI 6400.07, Incorporating Change 2,
Effective July 6, 2018.
250 DOD, Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2019, Appendix C.: Metrics and Non-Metrics on
Sexual Assault, p. 17, https://www.sapr.mil/sites/default/files/4_Appendix_C_Metrics_and_Non-
Metrics_on_Sexual_Assault.pdf.
251 P.L. 113-66 §1716, 10 U.S.C. §1044e.
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 a lack of standardized reporting structures across the services—with particular
concern about the independence of the SVC structure in the Army;
 a lack of uniform quality standards for SVC training;
 geographic availability of face-to-face SVC services; and
 a lack of standardized metrics for evaluating the operation of the SVC program.252
In response to some of these concerns, Congress enacted a number of changes to the SVC
program. In the FY2015 NDAA, Congress expanded eligibility for SVC services to certain
reserve component members who might otherwise not be eligible for legal assistance due to his or
her duty status.253 In the following year, Congress authorized access for certain DOD civilians.254
The FY2016 NDAA required DOD to establish baseline training requirements for SVCs and
other SVC program enhancements.255 Section 533 of the FY2016 NDAA also expanded the role
of SVCs to provide legal consultation and assistance to victims with complaints against the
government, FOIA requests, and correspondence with Congress.
The FY2020 NDAA included several provisions amending the SVC program. The bill required
the Service Secretaries to ensure that SVC caseloads, to the extent practicable do not exceed 25
cases at one time. 256 It also required that SVC services be made available to victims within 72
hours of a request. Another provision required training for SVCs on state-specific laws and
policies for the state in which the installation is located. The stated purpose of this training is to
“assist such Counsel in providing victims of alleged sex-related offenses with information
necessary to make an informed decision regarding preference as to the jurisdiction (whether
court-martial or State court) in which such offenses will be prosecuted.”257 Finally, the bill
extended SVC legal assistance to those claiming retaliation following a sexual assault.
Retaliation Protections
Retaliation is sometimes used as an umbrella term to refer to a range of illegal, impermissible, or
hostile actions taken against someone as a result of their having made or being suspected of
having made a protected communication, including a crime report.258 Experts have reported that
retaliation can have negative psychological impacts on sexual assault victims and that a lack of
social support leads to a higher likelihood of developing PTSD.259 The threat, or perceived threat,
of retaliation may also influence victims’ willingness to make an unrestricted report of an incident
and thus a reduced ability to hold perpetrators accountable. There is some evidence that this may
be a factor in the willingness of servicemembers to report an incident. The 2014 Military
Workplace Study found that among servicemembers who experienced but did not report a sexual
assault, 32% were concerned about retaliation by the perpetrator, 28% were concerned about
retaliation by their peers or coworkers, and 23% were concerned about retaliation by a supervisor

252 Judicial Proceeding Panel, Initial Report, February 2015, p. 4-5, https://jpp.whs.mil/public/docs/08-
Panel_Reports/01_JPP_InitialReport_Final_20150204.pdf.
253 P.L. 113-291 §533.
254 P.L. 114-92 §532.
255 Ibid., §535.
256 P.L. 116-92 §§541 & 542
257 Ibid., §550C.
258 Protected communications are defined in 10 U.S.C. §1034. Department of Defense Sexual Assault and Response
Office, DACOWITS DOD SAPRO Retaliation Overview, Briefing, December 9, 2015.
259 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses, February 2016, p. 16.
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or someone in their chain of command.260 DOD has expressed awareness of the potential for
retaliation to undermine organizational trust, as stated in the Department’s prevention and
response strategy,
Retaliation not only harms the lives and careers of victims, bystanders/witnesses, and first
responders but also undermines military readiness and weakens the culture of dignity and
respect. Without question, retaliation has no place in the Armed Forces.261
Statutory restrictions on retaliatory actions for protected servicemember communications,
sometimes called whistleblower protection, were enacted in the 1988 Military Whistleblower
Protection Act and codified in 10 U.S.C. §1034.262 Given the reported prevalence and negative
impacts associated with retaliation, Congress has taken actions in recent years to:
 clarify and expand the definitions of retaliation,
 enhance whistleblower protections for sexual assault victims and
bystanders/witnesses, and
 enhance oversight of the investigation and reporting processes for alleged
retaliatory actions.
Definitions of Retaliation
Section 1709 of the FY2014 NDAA required DOD to prescribe regulations prohibiting retaliation
against an alleged victim or other member of the Armed Forces who reports a criminal offense.
The law also specified that the DOD regulations must make retaliation an offense punishable
under Article 92 of the UCMJ, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation.”263 The provision required
the Secretary of Defense’s definition of retaliation punishable under Article 92 to include, at a
minimum:
(A) taking or threatening to take an adverse personnel action, or withholding or threatening
to withhold a favorable personnel action, with respect to a member of the Armed Forces
because the member reported a criminal offense; and
(B) ostracism and such of acts of maltreatment, as designated by the Secretary of Defense,
committed by peers of a member of the Armed Forces or by other persons because the
member reported a criminal offense.264
In 2015, the Secretary of Defense directed the development of a “DoD-wide comprehensive
strategy to prevent retaliation against military members who report or intervene on behalf of
victims of sexual assault and other crimes.”265 DOD currently adheres to three types of retaliation
that are defined in law and policy: reprisal, ostracism, and cruelty, oppression and maltreatment
(see Table 8).

260 Andrew R Morral., Kristie L. Gore, and Terry L. Schell, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the Military"
Annex to Volume 2. Tabular Results from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study for Department of Defense
Servicemembers
, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2015, p. 129.
261 DOD, DOD Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy: Regarding Sexual Assault and Harassment Reports,
April 2016.
262 P.L. 100-456, §846, codified at 10 U.S.C. §1034, as amended.
263 10 U.S.C. §892.
264 P.L. 113-66 §1709(b)(1).
265 DOD, "Department of Defense Press Briefing on Sexual Assault in the Military in the Pentagon Press Briefing
Room," press release, May 1, 2015.
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Reprisal, sometimes called professional retaliation, is currently defined in statute (10 U.S.C.
§1034) as taking or threatening to take an unfavorable personnel action, or withholding or
threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action, for making or preparing to make a protected
communication or being perceived as making or preparing to make a protected communication.
Examples of reprisal include: promotion interference, transfer or reassignment, poor performance
evaluations, disciplinary action, or making or threatening to make significant changes in duties or
responsibilities that are inconsistent with the military member’s grade. A 2012 GAO report found
that the most common forms of reprisal for all military whistleblower cases (not only sexual
assault-related cases) were assignment or reassignment (50%), a poor performance evaluation
(46%), or some sort of disciplinary action (42%).266
Ostracism is sometimes referred to as social retaliation and involves exclusion of an individual
from social acceptance, friendship or privileges with the intent to discourage the reporting of a
criminal offense or the due administration of justice. Unlike reprisal, ostracism is not confined to
acts taken by the chain of command, but also could include acts by peers or other colleagues.
Ostracism is defined in military department-level regulations and may include bullying (in person
or through social media), exclusion from group activities, or denying the privilege of friendship.
267 According to DOD, the intent requirement in the definition is included as to not violate First
Amendment rights to freedom of association.268 There may be some challenges to identifying and
proving ostracism, since commanders and NCOs may have limited information about the cases
while under investigation.
Other forms of retaliation have historically been punishable under the UCMJ, and these are
typically considered to be criminal retribution. These include actions like cruelty or maltreatment
(Article 93), assault (Article 128), stalking (Article 130), or obstruction of justice (Article 131b)
(see Table 8).269 In the FY2017 NDAA, Congress added a punitive article to the UCMJ
specifically to address retaliation in the form of unfavorable personnel actions (Article 132).270
This change became effective on January 1, 2019.
Investigative Authority for Retaliation
Victims of sexual assault may seek assistance to report retaliation in a variety of ways, including
hotlines, victim advocates, counselors, and military commanders outside of their chain of
command. The investigative authority for reprisal (professional retaliation) cases is the
Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG). The military services typically lead other

266 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Whistleblower Protection: Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Military
Whistleblower Reprisal Program
, GAO-12-362, February 22, 2012, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-362,, p.
62.
267 Navy and Air Force definition of ostracism: Exclusion from social acceptance, privilege or friendship with the intent
to discourage reporting of a criminal offense or otherwise discourage the due administration of justice (as defined in
Air Force Guidance Memorandum 2015-01 to Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2909; Secretary of the Navy Instruction
(SECNAVINST) 5370.7D). The Army definition of ostracism is slightly different: Excluding from social acceptance,
privilege or friendship a victim or other member of the Armed Forces because: (a) the individual reported a criminal
offense; (b) the individual was believed to have reported a criminal offense; or (c) the ostracism was motivated by the
intent to discourage reporting of a criminal offense or otherwise to discourage the due administration of justice (as
defined in the Army Directive 2014-20).
268 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses, February 2016, p. 64.
269 The JPP noted in its 2016 report that these UCMJ articles give commanders adequate tools for addressing social
retaliation, and recommended that Congress not add a separate UCMJ offense for retaliation. Judicial Proceedings
Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses, February 2016, p. 66.
270 P.L. 114-328 §5450.
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forms of retaliation investigations, conducted by military criminal investigative organizations
(MCIOs), law enforcement, or commanders at the unit level.
In the FY2014 NDAA271 Congress enhanced protections for military whistleblowers and added a
requirement for Inspector General (IG) retaliation investigations to include those “making a
protected communication regarding violations of law or regulation that prohibit rape, sexual
assault, or other sexual misconduct.”272 The law requires the investigating IG to be outside the
immediate chain of command and/or at least one organizational level higher than both the
member submitting the reprisal allegation, and the individual or individuals alleged to have taken
the retaliatory action.
Oversight entities, however, continued to raise concerns about the quality and independence of
DODIG investigative processes with regard to reprisal cases. A 2015 GAO review of DODIG
management of whistleblower complaints found that “DODIG did not have a process for
documenting whether investigations were independent and were conducted by someone outside
the military service chain of command.”273 In addition, the report noted substantial delays in the
average length of DODIG and service IG whistleblower reprisal investigations, failure to
regularly notify servicemembers about the investigation delays, and lack of standardization in
definitions and reporting between DOD and service IGs.
Congress again expanded whistleblower protections in the FY2017 NDAA and included
provisions to address issues raised in the GAO report.274 In particular, prohibited personnel
actions against whistleblowers were expanded to include
(i) The threat to take any unfavorable action.
(ii) The withholding, or threat to withhold, any favorable action.
(iii) The making of, or threat to make, a significant change in the duties or responsibilities
of a member of the armed forces not commensurate with the member’s grade.
(iv) The failure of a superior to respond to any retaliatory action or harassment (of which
the superior had actual knowledge) taken by one or more subordinates against a member.
(v) The conducting of a retaliatory investigation of a member.275
The FY2017 NDAA provisions also required uniform conduct and training standards for DODIG
investigators and required DODIG to provide periodic updates on the investigation status to the
servicemember who made the allegation, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the
department concerned.

271 P.L. 113-66 §§1714 & 1715.
272 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2014,
Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany H.R. 3304, P.L. 113-66
, committee print, 113th Cong., 1st sess., December
2013 (Washington: GPO, 2014).
273 GAO, Whistleblower Protection: DOD Has Improved Oversight for Reprisal Investigations but Can Take
Additional Actions to Standardize Process and Reporting
, GAO-16-860T, September 7, 2016.
274 P.L. 114-328 §§531 & 532.
275 Ibid, §531.
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Table 8. Types of Retaliation and Investigative Authority
Defining
Type of
Statute or
Investigative
Retaliation
Description
Policy
Authority
Reprisal
Adverse personnel actions by chain of command
10 U.S.C.
DOD Inspector
(professional
against the individual making a report. Includes:
§1034, and
General (IG)
retaliation)

DODD

Interference with promotion
7050.06

Unwarranted disciplinary action
Military

Involuntary transfer or reassignment
Whistleblower

Protection

Unwarranted negative performance evaluation

Unfair decision about pay, benefits, awards, or
training

Making or threatening to make significant
change in duties or responsibilities of a member
not commensurate with the member’s grade
Ostracism (social
Social exclusion by anyone against the individual
P.L. 113-66
Military
retaliation)
making a report, includes:
§1709,
Criminal

Department-
Investigative

Disparate treatment by and among peers
level
Organizations

Exclusion from social acceptance, privilege, or
regulations
(MCIOs), law
friendship
enforcement

Workplace incivility
investigators, or

commander-

Individuals distancing themselves from the
victim
directed
investigations

Victim-blaming

Excluding victim from social activities or
interactions, including by not inviting

Harassing comments on social media

“Unfriending” on social media
Maltreatment or
Criminal misconduct by anyone against the individual
UCMJ, Articles
Military
Criminal
making a report. Includes:
93, 109, 102a,
Criminal
Retribution

128, 130, and
Investigative

Cruelty or maltreatment
134.
Organizations

Destruction of property
(MCIOs), law

Stalking
enforcement

investigators, or

Assault
commander-

Threats
directed

Obstruction of justice
investigations

Other state/federal crimes
Source: CRS table derived from Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses,
February 11, 2016,
http://jpp.whs.mil/Public/docs/08Panel_Reports/04_JPP_Retaliation_Report_Final_20160211.pdf, p. 13.
Notes: Department-level references are Secretary of the Navy Instruction (SECNAVINST) 5370.7D, Air Force
Guidance Memorandum 2014-01 to Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2909, and Army Directive 2014-20.
Measuring the Extent of Retaliation
Information on retaliation in DOD is derived from surveys and retaliation reporting data. Surveys
capture estimates of prevalence based on self-reported perceptions from victims of sexual assault.
Until 2015, DOD has lacked centralized, systematic processes for monitoring and reporting
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documented instances of retaliation against sexual assault victims, witnesses, and bystanders. 276
The first major effort by DOD to collect data on the nature and disposition of retaliation cases
began in March 2015 when the Undersecretary Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
issued a data-call to each of the services for “alleged retaliation case synopses” from unrestricted
reports of sexual assault during the time between the beginning of FY2014 and February 2015.277
The required data included the following:
 Whether a report is professional (reprisal) or social (ostracism) retaliation,
 A narrative of the allegation,
 The authority that received the complaint (e.g., IG, MCIO, chain of command),
 Whether the retaliator(s) were in the reporter’s chain of command, peer, coworker,
or other,
 Whether the alleged retaliation was actionable,
 Whether the alleged retaliator was also the alleged perpetrator of the crime,
 The gender of the retaliator and victim, and
 The retaliation report outcome.
In May 2015, the JPP requested similar data from the Services. At that time, DOD’s SAPRO
office reported to the JPP that steps were needed to modernize DSAID to support collection and
management of retaliation data.278 A 2016 report by the JPP stated that although the Armed Forces
were unable to provide this information, the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps had
independently taken steps to track retaliation data.279 In FY2018, DOD started including
information about documented retaliation reports and subsequent actions in annual SAPR reports.
Data from surveys suggest that retaliation is under-reported. According to FY2018 WGRA survey
estimates, approximately 21% (1,008) of the nearly 4,800 active duty women who reported a
sexual assault “experienced circumstances that met legal criteria for the kinds of retaliatory
behavior prohibited by military law.”280 Figure 6 shows military servicewomen assault victims’
perceptions of these three prohibited retaliatory actions, by type. Additional data show that the
number of retaliation allegations the Military Services and the NGB recorded in FY2018 was
54.281 These data suggest that about 5% of military women who experience retaliation after an
assault make an official report.

276 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses, February 11, 2016.
277 DOD, Memorandum from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on Data Call on Retaliation for
the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (Mar. 12, 2015),
https://jpp.whs.mil/Public/docs/03_Topic-Areas/06-Retaliation/20151106/01_DoD_Retaliation_DataCall_201503.pdf.
278 Ibid., p. 32.
279 Judicial Proceedings Panel, Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses, February 11, 2016.
280 Prevalence estimates based on survey data for active duty men were not reportable due to low numbers. DOD,
Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, FY2018, p. 20,
https://www.sapr.mil/sites/default/files/FY18_DOD_Annual_Report_on_Sexual_Assault_in_the_Military.pdf.
281 Ibid., p. 21.
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Figure 6. Perceived Retaliation Following a Report of Sexual Assault
FY2018 Survey Data, Active Component

Source: CRS, derived from DOD, Office of People Analytics, 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of
Active Duty Members; Overview Report;
Service-level Annexes.
Notes: Estimates are based on the perceptions of those who experienced a sexual assault in the past year and
reported the assault to a military authority. In order to be included in the met-criteria retaliation rates, members
must indicate that they both experienced behavior(s) and motivating factors that are consistent with definitions
of retaliation. Rates for perceived retaliation against military men as victims were not reportable due to low
numbers.
In FY2019, the military services and the National Guard Bureau received 40 new retaliation
reports against 72 alleged offenders.282 Data indicate that victims of assault or harassment
accounted for most of the retaliation reports (87%), while witnesses or bystanders accounted for
the remaining 13%.283
Military Justice and Investigations
Uniformed members of the military services who allegedly commit sexual assault crimes are
subject to prosecution under the military justice system. Under the military justice system,
members of the Armed Forces are subject to a separate set of rules, orders, proceedings, and
consequences than their civilian counterparts. The military justice system is embodied in a code
of military criminal laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which the
President implements through the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM).284 The purpose of this
system is to “promote justice, to assist commanders in maintaining good order and discipline, to
promote efficiency and effectiveness within the military establishment, and thereby to strengthen

282 DOD, FY2019 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Appendix B: Statistical Data on Sexual Assault,
April 28, 2020, p. 37.
283 Ibid.
284 The UCMJ is found at Title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.), Sections 801 through 946. The Manual for Courts-
Martial includes the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM) and Military Rules of Evidence (MRE). The military services also
promulgate and update implementing regulations.
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the national security of the United States.”285 Prosecution of sexual assault offenders through the
military justice system typically has a dual purpose: (1) to apply just punishment for illegal acts,
and (2) to deter future offenders.286 Much of the sexual assault legislation that Congress has
proposed and enacted over the past decade has been directed at modifying a military
commander’s investigative and prosecutorial discretion for sex-related offenses, and enhancing
scrutiny over investigation and prosecution decisions. The following sections summarize selected
issues that have been on the forefront of congressional interest since 2004.
Investigation
An unrestricted report of sexual assault typically triggers an investigation by one of the Military
Criminal Investigative Organizations (MCIOs).287 An MCIO may investigate any criminal matter
with a DOD nexus.288 In reported sex-related offenses that have a DOD nexus, unit commanders
must defer to an MCIO and are prohibited from conducting command inquiries or
investigations.289 The most common bases for a DOD nexus are:
 The crime occurred on a DOD installation, facility, or vessel.
 DOD resources or equipment were utilized in the commission of the crime.
 A DOD entity, DOD civilian employee, servicemember, or military family member
was the victim of the crime.
 The person under investigation is subject to UCMJ or is affiliated with the DOD, or
was affiliated with DOD at the time of the offense.
In any investigation with a DOD nexus, it is possible that other federal entities, and state and
local entities, also have authority to investigate the same offense.
At military installations in the United States, an MCIO has federal investigative primacy over
servicemembers, but the FBI has primacy over civilians who commit federal crimes.290 However,
a 1984 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DOD and the Department of Justice
(DOJ) defers to the MCIOs to investigate civilians in most instances where there is a DOD
nexus.291 An MCIO may investigate an offense with a DOD nexus outside a military installation,
but this activity is limited to federal matters that are governed by the DOD/DOJ MOU and is
subject to other restrictions.292
State and local law enforcement agencies have exclusive investigative jurisdiction over state
crimes that occur outside a military installation, but they will likely defer to an MCIO if the

285 Manual for Courts Martial (MCM), p. I-1.
286 For additional background, see Mitsie Smith, “Adding Force behind Military Sexual Reform: The Role of
Prosecutorial Discretion in Ending Sexual Assault,” Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law, and Social Policy, vol. XIX
(2010-2011), pp. 150-152.
287 The MCIOs are the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service
(NCIS), and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
288 Department of Defense, Instruction 5505.03, Initiation of Investigations by Defense Criminal Investigative
Organizations
, February 13, 2017, p. 2.
289 DODI 5505.18 provides instruction on the process of investigation of allegations of adult sexual assault in DOD.
290 28 U.S.C. §535. Investigation of crimes involving Government officers and employees; limitations.
291 Department of Defense, Instruction 5525.07, Implementation of the memorandum of Understanding Between the
Departments of Justice and Defense Relating to the Investigation and Prosecution of Certain Crimes
, March 5, 2020.
292 32 CFR, Subtitle A, Chapter V, Subchapter I, Part 631, Subpart C. Off-Installation Operations (Military Patrols and
Investigative Activities) and Policy.
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matter is also a federal offense with a DOD nexus and federal interests outweigh state interests.
Whether a state or local law enforcement agency may investigate an offense that occurred on a
military installation depends on the legislative jurisdiction of the federal property or any
agreements between the MCIO and those agencies.
Legislative Jurisdiction293
There are three types of legislative jurisdiction that apply to federal property in a state, and they are determinative
of federal or state investigative jurisdiction over a person or an offense on a military installation.

Exclusive jurisdiction. The federal government possesses, by whatever means acquired, all of the
state’s authority to legislate without reservation, and the state concerned has not reserved the right to
serve criminal or civil process. These areas are often referred to as “federal enclaves” and exclusive
federal legislative jurisdiction displaces state jurisdiction.

Concurrent jurisdiction. The state and federal governments both have full legislative jurisdiction. The
state has reserved to itself the right to exercise, concurrently with the United States, all of the same
authority.

Partial jurisdiction. The state reserves some, but not all, legislative jurisdiction. For example, a state
can reserve the power to tax, but cede all other powers. In another example the state cedes all
legislative jurisdiction but reserves criminal jurisdiction.
The following is a framework for analyzing investigation jurisdictional matters:

Legislative Jurisdiction (Territory). Which entity or entities have legislative jurisdiction over the site of a
crime or area of a continuing crime-federal or state, or both?

Personal Jurisdiction. Which entity or entities have personal jurisdiction over the alleged perpetrator or
perpetrators-DOJ/FBI, DOD/MCIO, or state law enforcement-or two or more, if so, which is primary?

Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Which entity's criminal law applies to a crime-federal civilian (Title 18 USC),
federal military (Title 10 USC), or state law--or if there are two or more, which is primary?

Is the entity with primary jurisdiction able to assimilate the criminal law of any other entity and
prosecute additional offenses?
Congressional concerns in the area of investigation include the following questions.
 Are investigations being initiated in a responsive manner upon notification of an
unrestricted report alleging sexual assault?
 Are the rights of the alleged victim and perpetrator being protected in the
investigative process?
 Are MCIOs properly trained and do they adhere to prescribed policies and
procedures?
 Are investigations conducted in a fair, comprehensive, timely, and transparent
manner?
In the FY2014 NDAA, Congress included provisions that require commanding officers to
immediately refer unrestricted reports of sex-related offenses involving members of their
command to MCIO investigators.294 This provision also stipulated that commanders shall not
conduct internal, command-directed investigations on sexual assault allegations, and shall not
delay contacting the MCIO while attempting to assess the credibility of the report. An additional

293 U.S. Constitution, Art. I, § 8, cl. 17.
294 P.L. 113-66 §1742.
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provision in the FY2014 NDAA requires commanders to provide an incident report within eight
days of an unrestricted report of sexual assault.295
MCIO investigators are required to adhere to several processes specific to cases involving
allegations of sexual assault, among them ensuring a SARC is notified, avoiding disclosure of
individuals’ sexual orientation unless necessary for an investigation, ensuring that investigation
reports are retained for 50 years, and making data available for use in the Defense Sexual Assault
Incident Database.296
Over the past decade, some Members of Congress, advocacy organizations, and news media have
raised concerns that the military uses flawed processes to conduct some sexual assault
investigations.297 The DOD Inspector General (DODIG) has investigated individual claims and
has also conducted broader evaluations of investigative processes. 298 In a March 2015 report,
DODIG found that 99% of the MCIO investigations opened on or after January 1, 2012, and
completed in 2013, met existing investigative standards or had minor deficiencies.299 This was an
improvement over a 2013 DODIG evaluation that found significant deficiencies in 11% of cases
completed in 2010.300
Disposition of Cases
A completed MCIO report of investigation (ROI) is reviewed for legal sufficiency by a military
lawyer, or Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) who determines if the investigation’s findings are
supported by law and fact and the case is within DOD’s jurisdiction. In some cases, the
investigation will reveal that the military lacks jurisdiction to prosecute a crime. Examples of this
include, when the subject of the investigation is unknown, a civilian, or has died or deserted. If
DOD has jurisdiction, the investigation may not yield sufficient evidence to substantiate a sexual
assault charge, or command action may be precluded due to, for example, refusal of the victim to
participate or expiration of the statute of limitations.

295 P.L. 113-66 §§1742, 1743.
296 Defense Technical Information Center, “Department of Defense Instruction 5505.18: Investigation of Adult Sexual
Assault in the Department of Defense,” last updated June 18, 2015. The requirement that restricted reports are retained
for 50 years was added in 2012, P.L. 112-239 §577.
297 For examples, see: Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “Senator Gillibrand Calls On President Obama To Open
Formal Independent Investigation,” May 31, 2016; Department of Defense Inspector General, “Evaluation of United
States Army Criminal Investigation Command Sexual Assault Investigation,” November 10, 2015; Don Christensen,
Miranda Petersen, and Yelena Tsilker, “Debunked: Fact-Checking the Pentagon’s Claims Regarding Military Justice,”
Protect Our Defenders, April 18, 2016; and John Woodrow Cox, “A Marine’s Conviction,” Washington Post, June 21,
2016.
298 In response to a January 2015 request by Senator Mark Warner, DODIG evaluated the Army CID’s sexual assault
investigation processes in a specific case. The resulting report found that CID showed an overly “derisive and
dismissive” attitude toward the individual who initially reported the incident. The report also found “significant
deficiencies” in CID’s investigation process—these included failure to interview the victim thoroughly, failure to
interview witnesses, failure to advise the investigation’s subject of his legal rights, incorrect categorization of the
alleged offense, and failure to provide investigative reports to the subject’s commanding officer. Department of
Defense Inspector General, “Evaluation of United States Army Criminal Investigation Command Sexual Assault
Investigation,” November 10, 2015.
299 In the four cases where significant deficiencies were found, three of the cases were reopened and it was deemed
impracticable to reopen the fourth case.
300 DOD Inspector General, Evaluation of Military Criminal Investigative Organizations' Adult Sexual Assault
Investigations
, DODIG-2015-094, Alexandria, VA, March 24, 2015.
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Following review of the ROI, the SJA recommend appropriate judicial, non-judicial, or
administrative disciplinary action to the initial disposition authority. Since 2013 it has been the
policy of the military services that initial disposition authority for alleged sex-related offenses be
limited to the first special court-martial convening authority (SPCMCA) in the chain of command
who is an O-6 or higher.301 After receiving the SJA’s legal advice, this officer may exercise
authority over the matter, dismiss the allegations with no further action, or refer the matter to the
next officer in the chain of command who is a general court-martial convening authority
(GCMCA).
The FY2014 NDAA included a provision that requires an Article 32 (pre-trial) hearing before
proceeding to court-martial (unless waived by the accused) for sex-related offenses.302 By statute,
the purpose of this hearing is limited to
(A) Determining whether there is probable cause to