rain.png
Thursday April 9th, 2020 7:45AM
5:07AM ( 2 hours ago ) Weather Alert

Military still struggles to handle kid-on-kid sex assaults

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The U.S. Department of Defense is struggling to change how it handles the abuse of military kids, including cases involving sexual assault by other children, according to a report commissioned by Congress.

The military has been slow to implement reforms that lawmakers mandated more than a year ago, said the report released Wednesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The Pentagon still doesn’t know the extent of child-on-child sexual assaults, in part because some officials dismiss incidents without reporting them and the Pentagon has no one place to track all cases that have been logged.

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million school-age children live with military families, many on large bases that include schools, recreation centers, playgrounds and other trappings of civilian life.

While the report credited the Pentagon and some armed services for making policy changes on paper, it concluded ground-level change was lagging.

“I’d say their intentions are good. They’re starting to make progress,” said Brenda Farrell, the report’s primary author. “But it has a long way to go in order to get it to the point where they have oversight in place to be able to say that things are actually improving or that they’ve got this particular area under control.”

Lawmakers tasked Congress’ watchdog agency with doing its review after an Associated Press investigation detailed how justice failed both victims and offenders in child-on-child sexual assaults on bases.

AP’s reporting showed how the Pentagon and Department of Justice were failing both victims and offenders. Cases that investigators made often died on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confessed. Victims were denied help because regulations granted counseling only if the attacker was an adult.

In response, Congress passed legislation that required a series of reforms, starting in fall 2018. Wednesday’s report amounted to a progress check.

The report recommended 23 changes, which the GAO’s Farrell said was a high number.

“If the leadership sends the message this is a high priority, then everyone else will start to fall in line,” Farrell said.

In responses included in the report, the Defense Department generally agreed with the suggestions.

On one recommendation, the Pentagon said it was working with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve how criminal investigators and prosecutors respond to cases. AP found that federal prosecutors with jurisdiction over many large domestic bases and all overseas bases rarely prosecute. On some bases, state prosecutors have jurisdiction — and were much more likely to take a case. Unlike the federal system, states have juvenile justice programs that focus on rehabilitation.

Another recommendation cited a lack of pediatric sexual assault forensic examiners to help build cases based on physical evidence — the military there are only 11 such specialists, the report said. The Pentagon agreed that more expertise was needed and said it was working on building that expertise.

Generally, the changes related to child-on-child sexual assault so far have focused on revising written policies for how to handle and track reports. The military’s equivalent of social services, the Family Advocacy Program, published new guidelines as did the Army and the Pentagon-run school system known as the Department of Defense Education Activity, know as DoDEA.

AP’s investigation documented nearly 700 sex assault reports on U.S. bases worldwide over 10 years, a certain undercount because the Pentagon did not systemically track cases.

The GAO also found that the Defense Department didn’t know the full scope of the problem because data kept by its various branches was incomplete — and a centralized tracking system is a long way from reality. The Pentagon said it awarded a contract to develop a database in mid-November.

The Defense Department “has not yet identified all information requirements, developed a plan for how it will use the data it collects, or established a schedule for development and implementation,” GAO said of a tracking database.

The report also found that some complaints weren’t getting classified as abuse by staff at military bases. That staff has “considerable discretion” in deciding whether complaints are investigated or recorded in incident-tracking data.

In the Defense Department’s education system, for example, the GAO identified incidents of student misconduct, including unwanted genital contact, that base schools didn’t treat as serious and report to the upper administration.

"As a result, systemic issues within a particular school or district may never be reported to DoDEA’s leadership,” said the report, “and any additional resources that a school or district needs to prevent future incidents may not be identified.”

___

If you have a tip, comment or story to share about child-on-child sexual assault on U.S. military bases, please email: schoolhousesexassault@ap.org . See AP’s entire package of stories here: https://www.apnews.com/tag/HiddenVictims

___

Contact the reporters on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lalanewsman or https://twitter.com/ReeseDunklin

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Baltimore shooting leaves 2 officers wounded; suspect dead
A doctor says the two fugitive task force officers wounded by gunfire during a confrontation with a suspect in Baltimore are both awake but “still in very serious condition
5:28PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Smollett case reopens arguments about race, class in Chicago
A day after a grand jury revived criminal charges against Jussie Smollett, his case and that of a teenager shot by Chicago police reopened arguments about the role of race and class in the justice system
5:23PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Military still struggles to handle kid-on-kid sex assaults
A new report commissioned by Congress concludes the Department of Defense is struggling to change how it handles the abuse of military kids, including cases involving sexual assault by other children
5:16PM ( 16 minutes ago )
U.S. News
US soccer men's union says women's pay should be tripled
The U.S. men's national team urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to sharply increase pay of the American women and accused the governing body of making low-ball offers in negotiations with the men
5:20PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Angels' Stassi apologizes for Astros' sign-stealing scheme
Max Stassi says he wishes he had done “the right thing” when he learned about the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scheme late in their World Series championship season in 2017
5:14PM ( 18 minutes ago )
The Latest: More than 451,000 ballots cast in New Hampshire
More than 451,000 ballots were cast in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary
5:05PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Christian Cowan lives out his childhood fashion dream
Christian Cowan equates showing his fashion collections with continuously living out a childhood dream
4:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
After New Hampshire surge, Klobuchar turns to Nevada, beyond
Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar is hoping her strong third-place finish in New Hampshire will provide enough momentum to be competitive in Nevada and the states that come next in the nominating contest
3:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
UN list targets firms linked to Israeli settlements
The U.N. human rights office has released a long-awaited list of more than 100 companies it said are complicit in human rights violations by operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem
3:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Diplomat ousted and slammed by Trump gets diplomacy award
A career U.S. diplomat who was removed by President Donald Trump and later publicly criticized by him is receiving an award for “excellence” in the conduct of diplomacy
3:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Biden raises about $4M since lackluster caucuses
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has raised about $4 million since his lackluster performance during the Iowa caucuses and will run radio ads in Nevada and South Carolina as part of a retooled strategy
3:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Biden raises $4M since lackluster Iowa caucuses
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has raised $4 million since his lackluster performance during the Iowa caucuses and will run radio ads in Nevada and South Carolina as part of a retooled strategy
3:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Powell hears bipartisan Senate support for Fed independence
Republican and Democratic senators voiced strong support for an independent Federal Reserve during a hearing with Fed Chair Jerome Powell, one day after President Donald Trump launched another attack directed at Powell on Twitter
2:13PM ( 3 hours ago )
Lawmakers want Ivanka Trump's women's program to become law
A Republican and a Democratic senator are leading a legislative effort to have a global women's economic initiative spearheaded by President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka written into law
1:50PM ( 3 hours ago )
Italy: Senate vote on Salvini's immunity follows party lines
Italian senators have voted on whether to let Matteo Salvini be prosecuted as he has demanded for allegedly holding migrants hostage aboard a coast guard ship when he was interior minister
11:45AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Baltimore shooting leaves 2 officers wounded; suspect dead
A doctor says the two fugitive task force officers wounded by gunfire during a confrontation with a suspect in Baltimore are both awake but “still in very serious condition
5:28PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Smollett case reopens arguments about race, class in Chicago
A day after a grand jury revived criminal charges against Jussie Smollett, his case and that of a teenager shot by Chicago police reopened arguments about the role of race and class in the justice system
5:23PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Girls sue to block participation of transgender athletes
The families of three female high school runners have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls sports
5:08PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Report: Census Bureau at risk of not being ready for count
The start of the 2020 census is just a month away for most U.S. residents
4:41PM ( 51 minutes ago )
Gospel of Matthew's message rings loudly for some 2020 Dems
As Democrats running for president this year display increasing fluency with faith in their courtship of religious voters, one particular biblical passage is getting name-checked often: Matthew 25 and its exhortation to treat “the least of these" with kindness
2:48PM ( 2 hours ago )