DR. WHITLEY: Nice to see you again, and good afternoon, and thank you for coming. And thank you for -- interest in this most important topic.
I'm going to read a brief statement. And then I -- you have been provided highlights of the numbers of the report. And I'll walk you through those slides. And then I'm going to play a short public service announcement. And then we can entertain questions.
Today, the Department of Defense released the FY '08 report on sexual assault in the military. It is an annual report to Congress on sexual assaults involving members of the armed forces.
This report includes the aggregate numbers of sexual assaults, as well as the initiatives and program improvements we have made during the year. There are also individual reports from the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.
In FY '08, the services received a total of 2,908 restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault involving service members, representing an 8 percent increase in reporting from FY '07.
Given the fear and stigma associated with the crime, sexual assault remains one of our nation's most underreported crimes, in both the military and civilian communities. Therefore the department has been aggressively pursuing efforts to increase reporting and connect more victims with care and support services.
We want victims to get treatment, because that restores their health and the resilience destroyed by the crime of sexual assault. The increase in reports means the department's policy of encouraging victims to come forward is making a difference.
Victims have two options of reporting, restricted and unrestricted. The unrestricted option is what we have always had in place. But we have added the option of restricted reporting, which allows a service member to obtain care confidentially, without starting an investigation and without the command being notified.
Sometimes a victim needs time to restore order, to his or her life, before getting involved in the justice system. And restricted reporting allows this to happen.
However a victim can change their mind. And they can change their reporting option, from unrestricted to restricted, at any time. And this year, we had 110 victims decide to change their report, from restricted to unrestricted, and participate in an investigation.
While we don't want to pressure victims, we would like to see more people convert their report or to report initially unrestricted, so that we can hold all offenders accountable.
In the past year, the department has worked with civilian and military experts, to refine a comprehensive sexual assault prevention strategy. And this research-based strategy addresses actions for every level and every member of military society.
At its heart is a reliance on active bystander intervention. Our goal is to strengthen the knowledge and the skills of service members and empower them to identify and safely intervene in situations that may be leading up to a sexual assault.
It is my hope today that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who may see or read the report from this press conference will be encouraged to come forward to report the sexual assault and to receive care. Sexual assault harms our people and erodes our mission readiness.
The department remains committed to aggressively pursuing increased reporting of sexual assault, providing first-class victim care and preventing this crime before it occurs. In April of this year, we will debut a social marketing campaign as part of our prevention strategy, called "My Strength Is for Defending." And before we move to actually looking at the numbers in the slides, I'd like to show you a clip of the PSA that will be debuting in April.
(A video clip was shown.)
MS. WHITLEY: At this time, I'd be happy to walk you through the slides that were handed to you, to talk more about the numbers.
With slide 2, a reminder, this is a fiscal year report. This is a report of sexual assaults from October 1st, 2007 through September 30th, 2008. This includes all reports that were made involving active-duty service members, and either that active-duty service member was an alleged offender or subject, or a victim. These reports include military on military, military on civilian and civilian on military.
If you look at slide 3, we included the fiscal year '07, so you can compare and see that the numbers have gone up. And I reiterate, this does not mean sexual assaults have gone up. This means that reports have gone up, which we see as very positive, because we're getting the victims in to get care.
We believe that our restricted reporting is making a difference, because this year alone, we had 753 victims initially choose that confidential option, and 110 did convert later. But that says to us that's 753 people that may not have reported without that option being available.
We have had more than approximately, 2,500, I believe, restricted reports since we've had this policy in place. As you can see, the breakdown is 2,265 unrestricted reports, which means command was notified and they were investigated. Restricted reports, we had 643 that remained restricted.
On slide 4 -- we had to change our definitions in our policy this year, because the UCMJ changed their definitions. We now have eight categories of offenses, and so I've provided you a chart to show you how these offenses break out. At the very bottom is just the intent to commit offenses, followed by wrongful sexual -- wrongful sexual contact; it goes all the way up to aggravated sexual assault and rape.
We have been consistent since we've been collecting data, that usually a little more than half of our reports are rape or aggravated sexual assaults. This year, 63 percent fell into that top two -- the two top more egregious categories.
And lastly, I have asked Mr. Bob Reed, who's accompanying me today -- he's from the Office of General Counsel -- I'm going to ask him to walk you through the slide on subject dispositions, because this is, like, more about the legal process, so.
ROBERT REED (Associate deputy general counsel for military justice and personnel policy, DOD): Thank you.
The slide on page five is a depiction of cases that were provided to commanders for taking disposition based on a completed investigation in fiscal year 'O8.
Column A that you see there represents some investigations that were initiated in a prior fiscal year but didn't -- weren't completed until fiscal year '08. And then column B are incidents in -- of investigation that were completed within fiscal year '08; they started and completed within '08. And so then you have a total in column C on the far right.
This slide you'll see is organized according to the number of subjects that were represented by those completed investigations. Now, you can see in the roman numeral right below that that there are some cases that were completed in fiscal year '08 but because of the timing, and the reporting cycle ending at the end of the fiscal year, some of the command disposition decisions had not been made at that point. So we carry those over, and those will be reported next year, in next year's report. And that's kind of the rolling nature of these investigations, because of the -- a snapshot limited to a particular fiscal year, dates and times.
Now, the issue that a lot of people ask about is questions about, you know, command responses to these types of reports -- completed reports of investigation. And so this slide is an attempt to, from the data that's available in this area, to depict that for you.
There are many reasons why a commander can get a completed report but then it doesn't have a command disposition decision made after that. And in this slide, under A, it gives -- it gives you some examples where perhaps the completed report resulted in a person being -- his misconduct being addressed in the civilian community, or in a foreign criminal jurisdiction, if involved in that, in which case the commander doesn't take a disposition on the particular sexual assault incident because there's another jurisdiction -- another forum that's taking care of that.
Also, underneath that is B, and that's a category of cases in which sometimes victims report that they were sexually assaulted, but in reality they can't provide enough information to identify the person who committed the assault. And so in those cases, even though the commander got a completed investigation of the incident in question, he did not have any information upon which to take disposition action against an alleged perpetrator or offender. So the commander obviously was unable to take action in those cases.
The subcategory C that you see there is a large category, and some of the examples of reasons for insufficient evidence or incapability because of the status of the evidence is made -- is provided for you: things such as maybe the victim recanted the story, maybe the evidence didn't amount to proof beyond a reasonable doubt or to establish a sexual assault incident after it was investigated, or that the victim perhaps did not want to participate in further proceedings regarding the incident herself -- her choice.
So there can be various reasons when the commander has before him a completed investigative report and he's called upon to make a decision that, because of these factors, he's either unable or it would be inappropriate for him to take action at that time.
Column C, running left to right, are cases that fell into that category for one reason or another. At this point in time, we don't have a breakdown of what all those reasons are because, when the report was requested, we requested that they provide that information in the aggregate.
So what you get down to is Roman numeral III in this slide. And Roman numeral III are completed investigations, in fiscal year '08, that were provided to commanders for the commander to make a disposition decision.
Now, in the military, unlike in the civilian community, the military commander has a lot of disciplinary options at his disposal. In the civilian community, a district attorney, a U.S. attorney basically is in a prosecution/nothing, no prosecution mode. But a commander in the military has a lot of options that would include non- judicial punishment and a whole series of administrative actions, depending on the level of severity of the sexual assault involved.
Now, remember in the DOD statistics that we're reporting here, these are all sexual assaults of varying degrees, not just the offense of aggravated assault or aggravated rape or rape that is frequently reported in the civilian community.
So in these particular cases, what we tried to do to try to give you an idea of the command actions regarding completed investigation is itemize in a broad sense the command disposition decisions that a commander makes based upon that completed report. And in this case, if you look again at column C, there were 832 cases that fell into that completed investigative report category. The command disposition that was towards initiating a court-martial action or charges was 317, which amounts to about 38 percent.
And then below that, a commander -- command actions that involve non-judicial punishment was 247, and then below that is other administrative actions or discharges that a commander has at his disposal to appropriately address misconduct that involves a member of his organization.
And so what we're trying to do in the way these statistics are presented to you is to address the question or the concern or the issue that you have as when something is presented to a commander, what is a commander doing with it, when he has sufficient evidence to take some action, of course.
What we don't know in these statistics, or that we can point out to you, particularly at this time, is that all the evidentiary issues and factors and circumstances that go into that decision-making process. What is involved here is a report of the command disposition. And remember, some of these -- some of the sexual assaults that are represented in these statistics could be a simple sexual assault of inappropriate touching, and others could be rape and others could be other sexual offenses there.
So the fact that there are nonjudicial punishment options exercised here or administrative options exercised here doesn't necessarily mean or doesn't state for you the fact that allegations of rape are treated by administrative dispositions, by any means.
So that's essentially what this chart is intended to represent for you. It certainly is not a chart that provides all the information you could possibly get or things that would raise questions in your mind. But based upon the data that we are collecting and assembling to this point, this is what we could assemble for you to give you an idea in that particular aspect of command disposition decisions.
With that, I'll turn it back to Ms. Whitley.
Q Can I ask a question here? In terms of court-martials, it lists the number that went to court-martial. Do you have the statistics on the number of convictions that were obtained?
MR. REED: Well, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office that Dr. Whitley is the head of, as a policy office, doesn't track that. And that is not a piece of information that is provided to her.
The individual --
The individual services that handle military justice --
Q If in fact part of the program is to instill confidence in people's ability to report sexual assaults, wouldn't a critical figure like the number of convictions be reassuring, if they are reassuring?
MR. REED: This particular slide, as I indicated at the beginning, is intended to address a command disposition. Once a commander sends a case to a trial or has charges preferred, he effectively loses the results of that, because of the nature of the trial and the evidence, as it may unfold during the trial, and also the decision-making process that a judge or jury exercises, during that trial, regarding that.
So what this slide is intended to do, from a question of, what did the commander do, when he was handed this investigative report? Once he makes the decision to send it to trial, he in effect loses control individually over that.
Q I understand all that.
MR. REED: Right. But --
Q But what I don't understand is why you wouldn't track convictions.
MR. REED: This office would not track convictions. The offices that would track convictions would be the services, the military services, military justice.
Q (Off mike) -- military services. So why wouldn't you ask what the conviction -- I mean, I'm just confused as to why you wouldn't track convictions.
MR. REED: Because this program originally -- this program was originally established to focus on the victims and the victim care. We have now -- we are now in a transition to where we're focusing on what is happening with those cases. And the data that we had requested and that were assembled that went into this report essentially did not request that information.
Now, as to a database that we're developing, that -- I don't know whether it will take that into consideration. But again even if that information was provided, the result of the trial and even the sentence that was imposed, at the trial, is not a reflection on the command disposition decision or the commander's ability or the commander's decision-making process. Because as I said, once he analyzed the evidence that he has, at that time, and he makes a disposition decision, that's reflective, if you will, of how a commander sees the case under those circumstances.
And what happens after that, all the way through the military justice system and through the appellate process, doesn't negate the fact of what decision the commander had made. So from their perspective --
Q You're not trying to imply the results of that would be inconsequential? I mean, I --
MR. REED: They -- what I'm saying is, for the care of the victims, the results of that is of interest, but it is not the determining factor of what -- a commander's decision-making process, which is what this slide is intended to reflect for you.
Q Do you have figures for each of the services, not just the aggregate?
MS. WHITLEY: Yes, I have some total numbers for each of the services. But if you drill down too much and want specifics, we can ask them.
Do you want the total numbers for each service?
Q (Off mike.)
MS. WHITLEY: The Army had 1,584 total reports. The Air Force had 607. The Navy had 503, and the Marines had 243.
Q Now, this is the -- this is total restricted and nonrestricted?
MS. WHITLEY: Correct.
Q You don't have any numbers of how that compares to fiscal '07, do you?
MS. WHITLEY: They would have those numbers. We could get them from them, if you would like. I can get them now, or we can meet with them after, whichever you prefer.
Q (Off mike.)
MS. WHITLEY: Okay.
Q Do you have by any chance figures to compare, for example, with fiscal year '06 or '05? Does that exist?
MS. WHITLEY: It does. We -- the history of this program, if you will -- and my office originally was a task force that transitioned into a permanent office. In calendar year '04, the task force was asked to provide to Congress how many sexual assaults occurred in the military. And we literally picked up the phone and called OSI, CID and NCIS, and said, "How many sexual assaults did you have reported?" And we -- there were 1,700.
We continued a calendar year report, and in calendar year '05, we had 2,374 total reports. But midyear we implemented restrictive reporting. So we only have a breakdown that year of six months of restricted reporting.
Calendar year '06 had 2,897. And then we switched to fiscal year '07, last year, and so -- and fiscal year '08, this year.
Q And if I may follow up, I mean, what makes you so sure that the increase that you can see from '07 to '08 is not due to an actual increase of cases but just because people are more aware of the possibility to report and everything? I mean, I can understand that there's been an effort in the military to -- I mean, to push people to report, but how can you be so sure that it's not an actual increase?
MS. WHITLEY: Increase in number of assaults? Well, I can't say for all certainty, but what I can tell you -- in working with our civilian partners, we know that sexual assault is our nation's most under-reported crime. We know that in a -- your lifetime one in six women and one in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault.
We believe that we reflect the society that we serve. We recruit people from society in general, so we tend to have the same issues and the same problems that the civilian society does.
Q Although this nation is at war, so if I may ask, don't you think that the fact that a lot of the armed forces are now deployed to war theaters might have an effect on sexual assault behaviors?
MS. WHITLEY: There is no study, to my knowledge, that says that that actually increases sexual assault, and there's nothing I can truly say -- there's nothing in the military core values that would support that. That is totally incompatible with the values that our military have today, and that is really inconsistent with wearing the uniform. And the majority of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are -- certainly do not commit sexual assault.
Q But can you break down these figures for deployed versus undeployed?
MS. WHITLEY: I sure can. Okay. Well, we -- let me break it down by combat zone. I mean, I think combat zone -- I think what you're asking me is, you want to know what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we collect CENTCOM, which includes more countries than Iraq and Afghanistan, but I tried to break it out for you so that the total -- the FY '08 reports in combat zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 251 total reports; 163 of those were specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q And that compares how to 2007 fiscal reporting?
MS. WHITLEY: I don't have the 2007 numbers, but there is an increase in reporting. But I don't have the -- I did not bring those with me for the CENTCOM numbers. I can get those for you.
Q Kaye, I notice that you have, in this disposition page, 651 unsubstantiated, unfounded or insufficient evidence cases.
DR. WHITLEY: Mm-hmm.
Q I guess those cases were dropped. You subtract that from -- taking that from the raw number of 2,908 total reports?
DR. WHITLEY: You can't -- you can't do that. You can't manipulate the data that way. And when I transitioned from slide to slide, I probably should have done that better. We're talking fiscal year reports of sexual assault.
When we start talking about dispositions, now we're moving to a number -- we're talking about the number of alleged offenders. And we're adding the number up from -- like we had -- if you go back to that slide, we had reports that were made prior to '08 that are still under investigation, so we have to add those into the '08 numbers and we come up with that total number of offenders.
So this is about alleged offenders and investigations, not about the report. So it's almost like apples and oranges. You can't really add or subtract --
MS. WHITLEY: Okay.
Q Lets just take the numbers on that page, then. Some 651 of 1,671 total subject cases were unsubstantiated. Does that figure lead you or give you any concern or pause that possibly some people -- some of these reports might be being made to get at somebody or to prevent some sort of action, some sort of action that would cause a -- you know, some trouble for somebody else?
MS. WHITLEY: I don't have any data to support that. And one of the issues we had with that whole category was different -- the MCIOs each defined -- they were defined differently. Unsubstantiated meant three different things, and unfounded or insufficient may have meant three different things to the three different MCIOs.
So one of the things that we did this year, working with them, is to standardize what we call the data definitions. So the next time we report, I might be able to answer that question better, because we'll actually be able to break that down and have a definition for exactly what that means.
Q That seems like a high number, given that -- I take it that those are unrestricted reports.
MS. WHITLEY: Mm-hmm. They've been investigated --
Q They've been investigated. Somebody -- there was evidence collected. Why such a high number?
MS. WHITLEY: I can't respond. I don't know why there was such a high number. And I don't know where all of those -- sometimes there's just not enough evidence to go forward.
Sometimes they don't know who the offender was. There could be a whole host of reasons that there was not enough evidence.
I think you're probably getting at false reporting. All the research tells us that that's an extremely small number that someone would make a false accusation of sexual assault to get at somebody. That's a very small percentage, I believe.
Q Therefore, this number is all the more shocking, that there is a lot of those reports that are actually dismissed at the end of the day. And that's a considerable amount, considering the total number of reports. This is like --
MS. WHITLEY: Well, let's go back. These are on --
Q (Off mike.)
MS. WHITLEY: We're talking investigations now.
MS. WHITLEY: Like the slide on subject dispositions doesn't really -- the other slide talked about the number of reports that were made. We can't carry those over. And we're adding up offenders from prior years that have not -- so that it does get -- trust me, we know the number is -- we know one sexual assault is too many in the military, and so we know that that number is high. And that's what we're working toward with the new database and trying to standardize the data definitions. We're really working to drill down so we can figure out what's happening there.
Q Well, apparently your office is saying that, as far as the CENTCOM region, there's an increase over the last year -- 17 percent increase in restricted reports, 21 percent increase in unrestricted reports. Is that right?
MS. WHITLEY: I don't know. I don't have those numbers. Are you talking about --
Q Your office is putting out those numbers. Does that sound right?
MS. WHITLEY: I have -- now, are you talking about Iraq and Afghanistan or CENTCOM?
Q The CENTCOM theater, which I -- you know, mostly Iraq and Afghanistan, I would assume, but the other areas there as well with U.S. troops -- Kuwait, I would guess, and --
MS. WHITLEY: I don't -- I don't have that broken down. If you got that from -- I don't know where you got that from.
Q Does that sound familiar at all?
MS. WHITLEY: It doesn't sound familiar. Would you say it again? You're talking about CENTCOM?
Q Seventeen percent in the CENTCOM area.
MS. WHITLEY: Does that sound right?
Q Seventeen percent increase in restricted reports, 21 percent increase in unrestricted reports.
MS. WHITLEY: That doesn't sound right. Can we see if we can get that to you? Because that doesn't sound right.
Q Before I go, I believe it was 17 percent unrestricted and 21 percent restricted. But we've established that my math skills are terrible.
MS. WHITLEY: (Laughs.) And I'm not going to do public math either. So I'll --
Q Given that I cannot add things, the numbers you gave, for the services, appear to be more than 2,908. I just want to make sure I got the numbers right. I have 1,584 for Army, 607 for Air Force, 503 for Navy and 243 for the Marine Corps.
MS. WHITLEY: That's what I was given.
Q I added that and I got 3,037.
MS. WHITLEY: Did you all give me -- when I asked for the total numbers, you all were giving me the total restricted and unrestricted reports.
Well, I don't know where the disconnect is. I'll check. We'll check, yeah. We're going to take your calculator away from you. (Laughs.)
Q If I had a calculator, it would be much easier.
MS. WHITLEY: Okay.
Can we double check that and the numbers that this gentlemen had? That doesn't sound -- I don't know where he got that 17 percent or who gave it. But we'll get you the correct numbers.
Q And how does it compare to national figures?
MS. WHITLEY: Well, interestingly it's very difficult to compare, because the civilian societies collect data in a much different way. We have detailed that in our report. I forget the pages.
Teresa, would you like -- would you like to come up and talk?
Teresa Scalvo on my staff did a lot of research on that, because that's a question we get asked. I can tell you that whether we compare or not, we're held to a higher standard than the civilian communities. We think we're fairly on par.
The problem is like comparing apples and oranges. Nobody collects data the way we collect data. And if you look at the data that the FBI collects, it's like the variables are different. So some collect only data on women. Some define sexual assault different.
So we can't find an apple-to-apple comparison. But --
Q (Off mike.)
MS. WHITLEY: Yes, but we combine our numbers. We collect data and add both the victim and the offender. And we have male on male, male on female, female on male. There is female -- you know, the assault was committed on a female.
But that was one of the -- come on up, Teresa -- one of the projects that she worked on was trying to get an answer to that question, because it continues to challenge us.
TERESA SCALZO (Senior policy adviser, SAPRO, DOD): Hi. We have a few main reasons that our numbers are different than the civilian world, and while you can't make a precise comparison, you can put our numbers into context, which makes it a little bit more understandable.
First of all, the national numbers you generally see in the civilian world track only forcible rape against female victims. DOD numbers track all sex crimes against any service member or perpetrated by any service member. So right there, you've got a bigger ball of wax, if you will.
Number two, the civilian world backs out cases that are considered unfounded. As you noticed from the questions before, on the chart, "unfounded" is currently included in that big category of cases that did not move forward. What the civilian world does is they subtract them. They simply disappear. In the military, numbers never disappear. No matter what happens with the case, we track it and we report it.
The third difference, obviously, is there are multiple types of dispositions. In addition to courts martial, you heard earlier, we have nonjudicial punishment; we have administrative actions.
So as you can see, our numbers are -- we're collecting a different category of numbers. If you were to compare us to a comparable civilian jurisdiction -- we're often compared to the state of California; in the state of California in 2007, they had 44 percent of cases that were cleared, so that's either arrested or an exceptional clearance. Sixty-four percent of that 44 then proceeded to prosecution. That's a 28 percent prosecution rate.
If you look at our numbers, 38 percent of our cases in FY '07 went forward to courts martial. So while both of those numbers don't seem particularly high -- and I'm certain, based on the questions you've been asking, that those numbers you probably don't think are particularly high -- rape in America needs to be prosecuted better, and the military is very much on par with the civilian world.
On top of that, we have a number of initiatives that we're doing our best to examine the way we're prosecuting and to do an even better job of prosecuting as we move forward.
Q Could we get back to the CENTCOM numbers? Is there anyone over there that has these numbers, how much it's increased in CENTCOM over the past year?
: Not right now --
MS. WHITLEY: The -- yeah.
Q We had this information yesterday --
Q -- is there some reason why it's not available today?
MS. WHITLEY: I can -- I have the -- do we have a copy of the report? It's in the report. (Pause.)
Can we look for it and continue? Teresa, can you continue to look for it?
And then we cannot hold up things.
Q Maybe while we're doing that we can just re-go over why it can't -- the disparity between the increase in reporting or the answer why from last year to this year on the increase, why -- besides the answer of improved reporting ability. Are there any other reasons why you might think there's been an increase between --
DR. WHITLEY: I think we're doing a really good job in our victim care program. That's been in place longer than any part of our program, because, as Mr. Reed said, that was what initially got our attention and what we focused on.
I believe when I say this that it's true: You should not be able to go on any installation anywhere in the world and not see some kind of information that would tell you where to go to report a sexual assault. So we have -- the word is out there. And whenever you do -- our civilian partners tell us, whenever you do any kind of outreach, the way we've been doing, that you can expect numbers to go up.
I mean, our ultimate goal, of course, is to reduce the number of sexual assaults and eliminate the number of sexual assaults, but we don't have a measure for that. So when we started the program we thought they would steadily increase for a while, and then we thought they would go down.
Now, we do have a measure now that is fairly new, our DMDC. And you can go on their Web site and look at their gender relation survey. There is a question that we have put on there, and we've had one round of that. They survey the active duty and then in two years they survey the reserves.
And there's a question on there that we worked with them to craft that says, have you ever experienced unwanted sexual contact? And then if you answer yes, the question subdivides and goes down into these other things.
So we have a measure now. We can tell you that the number of people that report anonymously on the survey that have experienced unwanted sexual contact is way higher than the number of reports.
So having this metric or this measure, what we're looking to do is to reduce that gap, so that more people -- the number of people that are reporting are closer -- reporting outwardly is closer to the number of people that are reporting anonymously on that survey.
But just like the civilian communities, we have no way of knowing how many are occurring. The Air Force just commissioned a study, I believe, and they're going to try to look at prevalence and how often it's occurring that we don't know about. It's a really difficult metric.
Q I'd like to go back to Jim's point about courts-martial and engendering a feeling of confidence in the general public that, you know, something's being done about the problem. This is a real concern of Representative Harman's, as you're well aware.
DR. WHITLEY: Right. I know.
Q I'm not sure whether she took a total number here when she came up with a statistic of only 8 percent of cases in 2007 being referred to courts-martial, whereas now you have, by your measure, comparing the number of courts-martial to command action taken, that's a 38 percent figure for the last fiscal year.
Do you figure -- do you think that presenting the number in that way will satisfy her concerns or do you feel like there's more work to be done there?
DR. WHITLEY: To answer your first question -- I think I heard two questions there -- I don't think that will satisfy Ms. Harman. This is a really big issue on her plate right now, and she feels -- she knows that we're doing a lot, but she doesn't think we're doing enough or we're doing it fast enough. And she is not happy with -- even with the percentage of prosecutions that we have.
I don't know -- Teresa, do you want to talk? One of the reasons we used California figures when we were -- in our report to try to compare was because of her interest and, you know, to try to counter some of the statistics that she had put out there. You want to come talk to that?
And we've met several times with her, trying to explain to her how we do this and how it doesn't compare to what she's doing.
MS. SCALZO: The problem with those numbers is if you're trying to compare the military and civilian statistics, they're collected in two different ways. So it appears that when Ms. Harman's office calculated the California numbers that look much higher than the military, they didn't take into account that they came from two different studies with two different starting points.
When you do that, when you look at the fact that 44 percent of cases were cleared, which means arrested or exceptionally cleared, and then 64 percent of those were prosecuted, it brings it down to a 28 percent prosecution rate.
So to try to make our numbers more comparable -- I'm looking at the percentage -- we don't have arrests, so what we did was we looked at the number of cases where command action was possible, which theoretically would be similar to that point in the civilian community. So that's how we came up with those numbers.
Q But, Dr. Whitley, when you hear testimony from victims of sexual assault in the military, they often say they are intimidated by the male dominated military and, in part, the entire military culture. Is there any evidence in what your research has been able to derive that that is in fact a factor -- not necessarily in military assaults themselves, but a woman's reluctance to report a sexual assault?
MS. WHITLEY: I think that probably is one of the barriers. There are a lot of barriers to reporting sexual assault in the civilian community, if you think about what it's like there, and then bring it into the military, which is a much more closed environment.
And one of the things that Gender Relations survey, they ask women, "Why won't you report?" And that is listed as one of them. And there's fear of retaliation, fear of their command finding out. There is a long list of barriers that -- and I think we gave you that list.
But I believe that probably is; although many of the victims that are asked to testify at some of these hearings are victims who were assaulted prior to our new policy being in place. And we are just now getting out and talking to victims who have been served by our new policy. And that is what is going to help us, more than hearing victims who were not served well before our policy came into effect.
STAFF: We can do maybe one or two more.
Q Is part of the reason why you can't see the apples to apples and oranges to oranges because of the limitations within the law itself -- in other words, that you're required to come up with certain statistics that are not comparable because of the way they're required to be compiled with the civilian population? And would that -- if that law was reworked, would it be easier, say, for us to understand, to get?
MS. WHITLEY: Well, I think that's part of it because the way -- and I think really, as Mr. Reed was saying, when we were initially stood up the law just said, tell us how many reports are going on in the military. As we do more and more evaluations of the program, as we get out into the field, as the GAO gets out there, as the defense task force gets out there, we're getting more and more information and we're finding that maybe we do need to collect data in a different way.
And Congress has required that we come up with a centralized database. And we just delivered a proposal on how we're going to do that in January. And in the next couple of years, we hope to have a database in place that will help us manipulate the data. At the OSD office that I represent, if you called me up and said, "How many rapes took place at training brigades?", and I've been asked that question, "And how many were military-on-military?", I would have to go back to the services, they would have to go to the criminal investigative officers, and they would go through the files to come up with a number.
Our new database, if you called and said, "How many attempts of sexual assault were committed at Fort Stewart?", I could push a button and get that number. So this is going to really help us look at the data in different ways and give us much more information about our program. So we're very excited about having the ability to do that.
Q And doesn't that also change the numbers yet again, so that in a way, you won't be able to make year-to-year comparison yet again -- just the switch from calendar year to fiscal year?
MS. WHITLEY: Well, we should be able to do total reports. And we're looking at better ways of reporting our numbers as well. We're the only people that I know that -- a lot of people track victim care, and then people track offenders, but we're required by Congress to tell them about any case that involves a service member; therefore, we have to report military-on-military, military-on-civilian and civilian-on-military.
Q Sixty-three percent of all reports involved allegations of rape or aggravated sexual assault. Is that higher or lower than FY '07?
MS. WHITLEY: It's about the same. Since we've been collecting data, it's always been a little more than half, around 60 percent. So that's staying pretty constant.
STAFF: Okay, folks. Thank you very much.
MS. WHITLEY: Thank you all very much.
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