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26,000 members of the US military say they have experienced “unwanted sexual contact.”
Reports of sexual assault in the US military have increased by nearly one-third over the past several years, according to a Defense Department behavioral science study released Tuesday, said The Washington Post.
President Barack Obama responded quickly to the news, telling reporters: “The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this."
"I expect consequences,” the president said after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, according to NBC News. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
According to the Pentagon study released Tuesday, 26,000 members of the military said they experienced “unwanted sexual contact” last year compared to 19,300 in 2010, reported The Washington Post.
Michigan's Democratic senator Carl Levin, citing the Pentagon study, said there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving the US military every single day, according to the Associated Press.
The Pentagon study listed 3,374 reports of sexual assault this year compared to 3,192 two years ago, said AP.
The study comes amid consternation in Washington over the arrest of the Air Force's own sexual assault prevention director, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, on charges of sexual battery.
“This arrest speaks volumes about the status and effectiveness of the Department of Defense’s efforts to address the plague of sexual assaults in the military,” Levin told members of the Senate Armed Services committee during a Tuesday hearing with Air Force authorities, according to The Washington Post.
Krusinski was detained drunk in Virginia after a woman called 911 saying he tried to grab her breasts and bottom. He was released on bond on Sunday and has been stripped of his post, said AP.