Leon Panetta Acknowledges That 19,000 Military Members Are Sexually Assaulted Every Year

panettaSecretary of defence Leon Panetta

Photo: NBC

Secretary of defence Leon Panetta admitted to Natalie Morales of NBC that about 19,000 members of the military are sexually assaulted each year and the government isn’t doing enough to help victims.Last year 3,192 service members across all branches of the military reported sexual assaults, but only 240 cases were brought against attackers.

Anonymous surveys of active-duty service members conducted by the Department of defence in 2010 puts the number of incidents closer to 19,000.

Panetta’s statement comes on the heels of two major developments. The Air Force chose Col. Deborah Liddick to lead its basic training unit following the military indictment of six basic training instructors, one of whom is accused of raping one female recruit and assaulting several others.

More recently brigadier general Jeffrey A Sinclair was sent home from Afghanistan while the DoD investigates him for forcible sodomy and several counts of adultery.

While the military has been ignoring the systemic problem, civilians have created some strong representations of its scale and impact: Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick released the documentary “The Invisible War” earlier this year and “Lauren,” a three-part series on women and military rape, debuted last month.

NBC’s full report airs  tonight at 10 p.m. EST on Rock centre with Brian Williams. Here’s a clip of Panetta’s statements:

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SEE ALSO: The Most Staggering Moments From “The Invisible War”

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