COLORADO SPRINGS — Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark responded to aPentagon report earlier this week, which showed that reports of sexual assaults at U.S. military academies rose considerably in the 2021-22 school year.
One in five female students told an anonymous Department of Defense survey that they experienced unwanted sexual contact and at AFA, an estimated 380 male and female cadets reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact in the last school year, compared to 221 in 2018 — that's about a 72 percent increase.
"There's nothing that erodes trust and tears down teams faster than sexual harassment and violence," Clark said in a video posted on YouTube addressing cadets and their parents. What we need is a preventative stance where we stop these actions from ever happening we're in an unacceptable place and we need a culture reset.
Clark vowed that the institution will make strides toward creating a safer environment.
"I'm committed to developing, educating, and protecting every student who attends this institution against sexual harassment and violence and we will be proactive, we will be deliberate, we will be united," Clark said.
Several changes and major events involving sexual assault have occurred within AFA in the last several years.
In 2017, AFA restructured and expanded its sexual assault office after aninternal investigationconcluded it was crippled by poor management.
That same year, a former top official of the academy's sexual assault office accused the academy of underreporting sexual assault.
In 2018, the academy got rid of barriers for victims to report sexual assault. The academy stopped punishing them for underage drinking, fraternization, and other misconduct violations in an effort to increase reporting.
In 2019, a 20-year-old cadet was found guilty of raping another cadet and was sentenced to five years in prison in 2020.
In 2022, The Gazette reported that sexual assault within the academy for the year prior showed the highest sexual assault reports in at least 16 years. Covid-19 may have impacted those figures.
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