DENVER (AP) — Reports of sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy declined by seven during the last academic year, the military said Friday, but they were still higher than the number reported at the Army and Navy academies.
Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, said she was encouraged but that more work must be done.
A report on sexual assaults at the three major academies released by the Defense Department said a total of 70 incidents were reported in the 2012-13 school year, down from 80 the year before. But a decade after a sexual assault scandal at the Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, the review found a culture of disrespect pervades the three schools and their sports teams.
The Air Force Academy accounted for 45 of the 2012-13 reports, including seven incidents that happened before the victim became a cadet. In the previous academic year, 52 assaults were reported at the academy, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many occurred before the victims enrolled.
“We remain encouraged by the reporting numbers because we believe it reflects victim confidence in our program,” Johnson said in a statement.
She did not directly address why reports were higher at the Air Force school than the other academies.
The Naval Academy reported 15 assaults last year, up from 13 the year before. West Point reported 10, down from 13. Four of the assaults at the Army and Air Force academies occurred before the victims enrolled, but no breakdown by school was available.
The report said students at the three schools often believe they have to put up with sexist behavior.
It said an old slide presentation that disparaged women was circulated by members of two sports teams at the Air Force Academy. The report did not identify the teams or offer any other information.
An academy spokesman said he could not immediately provide any details.
In January 2003, female cadets at the Air Force Academy said that when they reported they had been sexually assaulted, they were punished for such minor infractions as drinking.
Some sought help from a civilian rape crisis clinic, saying they feared their careers would be in jeopardy if they spoke with military commanders.
Top leaders at the academy were replaced, and programs were put in place to prevent sexual assaults and encourage cadets to report incidents.
Johnson, who became superintendent in August, is the first woman to hold the post.
BY DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press
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