Sexual Assaults at Air Force Academy Increase in 2016

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, superintendent of the US Air Force Academy, told members of Congress on May 2 the academy is making progress when it comes to combating sexual assaults, but it still has more work to do. According to a 2016 Service Academy Gender Relations Survey, the number of cadets who experienced unwanted sexual contact increased from 126 in 2014 to 150 in 2016, though both numbers are lower than the 162 cadets estimated in 2012, Johnson told the House’s military personnel subcommittee. “We expect more of ourselves and rightfully so, because more is expected of our graduates when they leave our campus and operate in increasingly complex … and unpredictable battlespaces,” said Johnson. “We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Bottom line is that we cannot tolerate any instance of sexual harassment or sexual assault.”

To better understand those numbers, as well as cadets’ attitude toward reporting, the academy also conducted the 2016 military service academy, equal opportunity climate survey, which “showed significantly more cadets are willing to seek help from their chain of command compared to 2014 and showed an increase in trust at all levels of leadership at the academy, an average increase of three percent across enlisted and officer leadership, academic faculty and staff, and the athletic department,” she said. Johnson’s testimony came the same day the Defense Department released its annual report on sexual assault in the military, which showed the number of Active Duty troops sexually assaulted in 2016 decreased, though the percentage of troops who reported those assaults increased. Like Johnson, the Pentagon attributed this to an increased confidence in leaders.