WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. military officials have sought to ward off congressional efforts to address child-on-child sexual assaults on bases, even as they disclose that the problem is larger than previously acknowledged.
Members of Congress expressed alarm and demanded answers after an Associated Press investigation revealed that reports of sexual violence among kids on U.S. military bases and at Pentagon-run schools are getting lost in a dead zone of justice that often leaves both victim and offender without help.
With at least three potential legislative fixes being drafted, military officials have had a clear message during briefings with lawmakers and their staffs: We can handle this on our own. It’s a strategy that began months ago, after the Pentagon received AP’s questions and well before officials understood the scope or severity of the problem.
In March, AP documented nearly 600 sex assault cases among children and teens on U.S. bases worldwide over a 10-year period. Army criminal investigators have now added another 86 investigations to the 223 they initially disclosed. The revision came after AP challenged data that suggested major installations in several states and overseas had no or only a few such sexual assault cases.