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Acting Director of the Sexual Assault Response Prevention Office Dr. Nate Galbreath and Director of Health & Resilience Research With the Office of People Analytics Dr. Ashlea Klahr Hold a Media Roundtable on the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies

MODERATOR:  All right, everyone, I think we -- we're at a good point now so we can go ahead and get started.

With that, I'd like to thank you all for joining us today on this Zoom call for the media roundtable on the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies for Academic Program Year 2020 to 2021.

As -- as noted in the advisory, the roundtable is off-camera, on record with acting Director of the Sexual Assault and Response Prevention Office Dr. Nate Galbreath and Director of Health and Resilience Research with the Office of People Analytics Dr. Ashlea Klahr.

Today, we have seven media who have acknowledged they have questions.  So once we get to the Q&A portion, please allow me to call on you first, then proceed with your question.  If you have -- if anyone else has any questions after the roundtable or if we do not get -- have enough time to get to you today, please send your questions to the point of contact listed in the media advisory and we will work quickly to provide responses to your questions.

With that and without further ado, I will turn it over to our briefers to provide remarks and address the report's findings.  Thank you.

DR. NATHAN GALBREATH:  Good morning, everyone.  This is Nate Galbreath, and as Lisa said, I am the acting Director of the DOD's Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office.  It's good to see some familiar faces on the call this morning.

I've been with SAPRO for about 14 years, going on 15, and -- in one form or another.  And so with me today is Dr. Klahr and she's going to talk about some of the focus group efforts that we did at the academy this year that are just a little bit different than what we've done in the past.

Rather than read slides to you, I am going to just give you a highlight or two of each of the slides in the deck that we have to -- to chat about, and then we'll be sure to get to your questions here very soon.

And so to kick us off today, I could tell you that, in this program year, the academy's work to expand their prevention capabilities, to provide quality support to victims, and they also worked -- how to -- to improve how they address sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Now, while the investments we observed in this year are tangible, the academies must now make these changes permanent and demonstrate their lasting effectiveness because no one should have to experience sexual assault or sexual harassment in their service to this country.

That being said, I'll just give you a thumbnail sketch on some of the items that are in the report this year and level set with you on slide number three about our process.

You might recall that when we last assessed prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the scientific surveys in 2018, sexual assault prevalence had increased to a -- to a high point, as did sexual harassment prevalence.

And so we have worked with the academies to ensure that they are taking every step possible they can to increase their prevention capabilities to address this and -- and other misconduct that gives rise to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a 2020 survey because of the closure of the academies that -- in the spring of 2020 due to COVID response.  You might recall that -- that all three academies actually sent cadets and midshipmen home once the -- once the pandemic really began to take over the nation.

In addition to that, I can also -- I just would -- will want to remind you, as well, that the way that we look at the academies and the content of this report varies by year, based on the -- based on the kinds of -- of requirements that we have in the -- in the law that governs our look at the academies.

So this year is an assessment year, which means that we were on site at the academies, either physically or virtually, and looking at their policies and programs to address sexual assault and sexual harassment.  In addition to that, Office of People Analytics, represented by Dr. Klahr today, also did their -- this focus group effort to look at -- at peer leaders there at the cadet -- at the academies.

And next year's report will be that survey -- prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  The -- where -- as a matter of fact, we have -- we're all lined up to be at the academies in March and April of this year to conduct the next survey.

And so that influences what you're going to see in the report today because it is an assessment year, and so we're doing compliance assessment work.  But this all happens at a time with unprecedented and historic focus on sexual assault and sexual harassment within the force.

Secretary Austin hit the ground running in -- in February of last year, directing not only three immediate actions to get after how the department addresses sexual assault and sexual harassment but also launching the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.  And of course, some of their work is going to impact the academies, as well.

So just very quickly, to take you on through some of the data -- so moving onto slide number four, if you're following along via phone and can't see the slides today on Zoom, you'll notice that across the top of slide number four, you'll see our -- our history of -- our trend line of reporting of sexual assault.

This is different from the prevalence information -- in other words, the survey estimated total number of cadets and midshipmen who may have experienced a sexual assault in the past year.  These are actual reports that have come in the door to either sexual assault response coordinators or military criminal investigative organizations -- OSI, CDI and CIS.

And so you'll see that this year, we had 131 reports, up from 88 last year, and the reason why there was a dip last year is because, again, the academies closed right at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the academic program year and sent everyone home.  Once everyone went home, there were no further reports of sexual assault at the academies.

So the most -- the -- so the year before that, where you see 122 reports on the graph, is probably the trend line here that we're seeing without that -- that COVID impact on the numbers.

But I -- but to be clear, 131 isn't the total number of reports that we received at the academy.  We -- in the gray box off to the right-hand side, you can see that we also received 14 reports from cadets and midshipmen who wanted to tell us about an incident that occurred to them prior to their joining military service.  And then in addition to that, we received 16 reports from a number of different parties that alleged a sexual assault against a cadet -- cadet or midshipman.  So all total, there were 161 reports.

In the bottom left-hand side of the screen you can see the number of cadet/midshipmen reports broken down by academy and you'll -- the biggest increase we had at West Point -- was at West Point.  But again, they also had the biggest drop off last year, as well.

And then in the bottom right-hand side of the screen you can see that we had -- that those reports are broken out by the number of restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault.

Now, a feature that I want to remind everyone about on the call is that the 67 restricted reports that you see also have -- those cadets and midshipmen had the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the Catch Serial Offender program.  That program essentially allows cadets and midshipmen to provide information about their alleged offender confidentially to our criminal investigators.  The criminal investigators then check that information against DOD and national databases, and if it matches with other victims that have named a similar offender, then those victims are provided the opportunity to voluntarily convert their report from restricted to unrestricted and participate in the military justice process, if that's their desire.  So this year, there were a -- a subset of those 67.  There were 43 cadets that -- and midshipmen that submitted information into the Catch A Serial Offender program.

Now, just moving right along, I can tell you that our compliance assessment found that the academies really were very -- did very well with regard to their self-assessments, assessing that they were in compliance with DOD and service policy.  Now, what I can tell you, though, is -- is that we just -- we didn't necessarily take them at their word.  We did look ourselves not only at what they said they were compliant in, but then also our own special interest items, which are listed there across the top of the slide, and I'll tell you about those in just a minute.

Now, one of the things that you might be thinking is if the academies are so compliant in their programs, why is it that sexual assault, sexual harassment still continues to occur?  And that's because the academy programs are very heavily response-oriented.  So that means that they're very good about -- with taking care of victims once they report; also, ensuring that they're getting -- given proper support and care, and then with their criminal investigation and -- and accountability measures to -- taken after the investigation is completed.

With that being said, prevention is what actually moves the needle with regard to decreasing how often sexual assault and sexual harassment happen, and so this is where we're directing that the academies build out those programs.  And to be clear, they have been doing exactly that over the past three years.  And so I'll be telling you about that progress here in just a minute.  But before we do, I'd like to turn it over to Dr. Klahr, who will give you a thumbnail sketch of the focus group effort that we undertook this year to identify those peer leaders that can help us move the needle and change some of the troubling attitudes and social norms at the academies that aren't the best for preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment, and then also, to identify the means by which we can best communicate with cadets and “mids” via the education and messaging that really resonates with them, as well.

So Dr. Klahr, over to you.

DR. ASHLEA KLAHR:  Thank you, Dr. Galbreath.  Good afternoon.

So as Dr. Galbreath mentioned, we took a different approach to the focus groups that we do at the academies this year, and we did this work in March and April of last calendar year.  In our approach here, we started, actually, with a brief online survey.  This was not our prevalent survey.  We weren't asking about experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment, but rather, we asked about norms on the campus, as well as the student to tell us who is influential on the campus.  And we then used those lists of influential students and recruited those particular influential students to participate in focus groups that we held virtually.

Another thing that we did when we got the survey data back -- we had these lists of influential cadets, and we also had information about who's connected to who.  So we created a social network maps that allow us to see the whole sort of web of interconnections between students at each of the academies.  And using these maps, we able to identify that about 17 percent of students at the academies are what we call central influencers.  These individuals are highly nominated, but they're also highly integrated with one another such that these particular individuals, if you're able to sort of influence their thinking and their behavior, you would be able to essentially touch everyone else at the academies through the -- the social network.

And what we see when we look at these central influencers, not surprisingly, they're predominantly men, predominantly upperclassmen.  But we did see that women are over-represented among central influencers when compared to the representation of the academies overall.  However, if you look a little bit more closely, we do see that male cadets and midshipmen typically nominate other men as influential, and so therefore, the best bet for shaping the attitudes and behaviors of men in particular is still working through male influencers.

When we talked to these folks in the focus groups about what makes people influential, we heard a lot about having a strong work ethic, good interpersonal skills.  These folks are seen as highly-competent across all domains of academy life.  They're not just excelling in one domain, but they're seen as well-rounded, and also, these individuals are empathic.

We turn over to our next slide.  We're going to show you some of the results that we got from the survey when we asked about norms on each of the academy campuses, and we saw two distinct patterns emerge with respect to norms at the academies, and these two patterns have different implications for how the academies can get after some of these issues.

So for the first pattern that we saw, this is reflected in the top three norms shown on the table.  When we look at this, we see that the expectations that cadets have for one another -- so this is what they expect of their fellow peers -- are largely in line with the expectations of the institution.  So for example, we see that 90 percent of cadets and mids are saying that they expect one another to confront sexist behavior when they see it.  However, we see that when we ask folks what they actually do, that the behaviors are not in line with those expectations.  There's a gap there.

This gap is really an opportunity for the academies.  By sharing these results with the cadets and midshipmen, the academies can let students know that their peers actually expect them to confront sexist behavior when they see it, and not let it slide.  Students may be reticent to speak up because they don't realize that most of their peers are not okay with it either, and if they're going to take that first step forward, that most of their peers will be behind them.

Now, we do see a different pattern for the three norms at the bottom of the table, and again, this suggests a different approach is needed.  So when it comes to, for example, encouraging healthy drinking behavior, we see that the expectations of the student body are really not coming in line with the expectations of the academies.  Many folks are not expecting their peers to do this, for example, and then we see that behavior follows in kind.

So more work is needed in this space to further inculcate the values of the institution into the student body in these areas, potentially via skill building or a character development approach.

So that's the "what" of what needs to be worked on in terms of the -- the content of the prevention activity.  And then finally, the "how" is one of the things that we've learned about through these focus groups.

So when we asked cadets and mids to tell us what are some of the types of training that really resonate with you and what doesn't resonate and what are the qualities that make those things resonate -- and these qualities of trainings that resonate were consistent across the academies.

And I think there was no surprise this year -- as I think these findings are consistent with many of our own experiences -- the types of training approaches that really resonate are those that include discussion and sharing of personal experiences, trainings that occur in small groups and have subject matter expert facilitators.  The trainings that don't resonate are those large briefings, online trainings, and the, quote "death by PowerPoint," end quote, that we heard a lot about from cadets and midshipmen.

So when looking at these results, we know that the academies are really a demanding place with a lot of requirements.  And certainly not every training could or necessarily should occur in small groups.  However, these results suggest that for those trainings that are on high priority issues, that it really makes sense to allocate resources and to employ the approaches that are most likely to resonate with students.

So with that, I will turn it back over to Dr. Galbreath.

DR. GALBREATH:  Thank you, Dr. Klahr.  So to continue on the reason we -- we engaged in that kind of focus group effort is to better -- to give the academies additional tools associated with what they could do to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

And as a matter of fact, we've been working very closely with them since 2019, when the entire Department of Defense did a -- a big change, a big core shift in how we do prevention within the DOD.  We shifted heavily to a population, health-based approach, which is essentially the greatest -- good for the greatest number of people.

This approach relies heavily on looking at the risk and protective factors in a given population of personnel and engaging in interventions and policy changes that might reduce the occurrence of the crime -- excuse me.

So overall, this year we saw some excellent work with regard to growing their prevention programs at the academies.  However, there are changes that need to occur.  And first of all, what I can tell you is they -- they're comprehensive prevention plans, which we have worked with them to grow, that address not only sexual assault but also sexual harassment and other behaviors that give rise to sexual assault, these comprehensive prevention plans are in place but they're at risk because right now, they are just words on paper.

So what we're looking for them to do -- excuse me -- is to issue a prevention policy at each of the -- of -- at the academies to lock this plan -- these plans in and make sure that they're part of how the academies do business in the future.

We also need the academies to hire a prevention champion, a -- a violence prevention program integrator to address how well the academies' programs are working together and also to make recommendations to the superintendent about what programs are doing well, what programs could be fine-tuned for better performance, and what programs could be discontinued because they're not a good return on investment.

In addition to that, we're working hard to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money, with regard to evaluating what programs really move the needle with regard to preventing these problems.  And so we are currently involved in a number of evaluation activities, and these are scientific testing of prevention programming at each of the three academies.

Right now, my organization has contracted with an outside evaluation organization to look at the prevention education at both West Point and the Naval Academy, and in addition to that, we're also directing that the academies evaluate additional components of their prevention programs too.

There are a lot of things on this slide -- and I -- I won't -- I won't subject you to death by PowerPoints here -- but what I will offer to you is -- is that ever since 2005, with the advent of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, the hallmark of our program is to give victims of sexual assault choices with how they recover and how they report this crime and the level and extent to which they participate in the military justice process.

The reason we do this is because the decision to report is a deeply personal one and our goal is to field policies, programs and procedures that allow victim -- that meet victims where they are, that allow them to make the choices they need to recover.

And so what you'll see here are a number of different things that the academies have put in place, not only from direction by the department but also from our leaders in Congress, as well.  And two of the things that I'll point out here on this slide are the directions that we received in Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year '21.

One of those was to allow cadets who have made -- cadets and midshipmen who have made unrestricted reports of sexual assault to have an expedited transfer to another academy.  Those transfers happen at the victim's request.  We -- and all three victims that requested a transfer this year received a transfer.  And I spoke to two of the three victims that received transfers and they were very supportive and -- and -- and complimentary of the help that they got in -- in making those transfers possible.

That being said, we do think that the academies are doing well on this.  One of the victims told me that they began their transfer at the beginning of their senior year and they were even able to graduate and commission on time into the service.  And so we -- we think that's a helpful story to know there.

In addition to that, we also worked with the academies to help them understand the requirements under the Safe To Report policy that was also directed in the F.Y. '21 National Defense Authorization Act.  That policy allows commanders to waive minor collateral misconduct on behalf of the victim who might be reporting a sexual assault.

So for example, if a victim were underage drinking or out of bounds or off limits at the time of the sexual assault, the commander may waive that -- waive action on that misconduct, and -- and that allows victims to come forward without having to fear that they'll be punished for minor things associated with -- with sexual assault.

The department issued guidance implementing this policy last October and all three military departments are on task to issue their own implementing policies at the end of April this year.

One of the things that I know a lot of you are interested about, right before -- just to wrap up here, is the impact of the IRC on academy activities.  As you know, the -- the Independent Review Commission, directed by the Secretary last year, looked more broadly at the force.

But what I can tell you is -- is that the changes in the 82 recommendations from the IRC, as we implement those, they'll impact the academies, as well.

One of the primary changes will be the -- who will decide the prosecution of sexual assault, and that's going -- and once the -- the changes take effect within two years, the superintendents will cease being the convening authority or the decider behind those prosecutions and that will be passed over to a special trial counsel who will be an O-7, which is a brigadier general or a rear admiral, who will be in charge of making those decisions about prosecution of sexual assault and other named offenses as directed by Congress.

With regard to prevention and victim care and support, our assessment is -- is that the academies are actually out of -- ahead of the -- their component services because, again, the academies have been working on a lot of this over the last 15 years and they get a lot of assistance from us and also from -- from other -- their service headquarters, as well, ensuring that we're doing all we can for cadets and midshipmen.

So with regard to prevention, the academies already have prevention work forces, they have plans in place to address prevention, and in addition to that, they're assessing risk and protective factors within their communities.  That's a -- exactly what the IRC envisioned when they recommended the -- changing the prevention line of effort.

In addition to that, we're not seeing the kinds of -- of undue influence on the reporting process and the support that sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates provide that was featured in the Fort Hood IRC and other -- and other stories that came out as a result of the IRC's look.

As a matter of fact, all three academies have their sexual assault response coordinator offices well positioned and free from any kind of inappropriate influence.  And as a matter of fact, all three superintendents are very huge supporters of the -- of the -- this program and they leave the (inaudible) to provide the best care possible and give the -- those cadets and midshipmen the kind of support they need to recover.

So with that being said, what I have here on slide number 12 is just a list of all of the different things that we are directing as part of this report.  Today, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness issued a memorandum that essentially directs these -- the academies to get after these items.

But just to conclude, I just wanted to let everyone know that while we have talked about some of the progress that the academies have made, there is still much more work to be done.  And we recognize that this is a -- this is a troubling problem, it's a horrible thing to have to experience, and we are here to help make sure that it happens less often and that victims get the kind of care and support they need to recover.

Overall, this report comes out at a -- at a time of unprecedented focus by the Secretary of Defense and other -- and all the leadership within the department on -- on improving how we address sexual assault prevention response.

So with that being said, Lisa, I'll turn it back over to you for the questions.

MODERATOR:  All righty.  With that, we will go ahead and start with the Q&A.  So we'll go over to Lita.  Do you have any questions?

Q:  Hi, yes.  Thanks for doing this.  I have two sort of data questions and then a -- a broader question.

One, Nate -- Nate, can you talk about the -- the CATCH program?  Can you give us some data on the -- the numbers in the last couple of years over how many are actually sort of putting their data into the CATCH program and how many have resulted in identifying some -- a -- a repeat offender?

Second data question -- drinking on campuses, what was the correlation between drinking and sexual assaults in these cases?

And then just my -- a broader prevention -- you've talked about prevention for 10 years now.  Have you identified any programs that actually work?  The Secretary has talked about finding what works and what doesn't.  Has it not been possible at all to find any programs that work, that can be spread to all the academies?

Thank you.

DR. GALBREATH:  Of course.  So with regard to the numbers, again, this year, we had 43 cadets, midshipmen make entries into the CATCH program.  Overall, in the Department of Defense, we've had a total of, I believe, over 1,000 folks contribute information.

Right now, I'm -- I -- we don't report information beyond that because it's very important that victims of sexual assault realize the voluntary nature of this program, and we don't want to put undue pressure on folks that are participating in this program to convert their reports when they -- when they don't have to.  And so that's -- that's all I'm -- I'm -- I'm willing to talk about there.

With regard to the influence of alcohol, our last survey in 2018 made it very clear that certainly alcohol is a significant risk factor in sexual assault and other misconduct at -- that we see at the academies.  To that end, all three academies have an alcohol education program.  We do think that some of that -- as they evaluate these programs to see whether or not it's moving the needle and -- and improving those risk factors, that is something that we're paying a lot of attention to in this evaluation piece.

And to your point, exactly, as -- I have been talking about prevention over the last 10 years, but what I would also tell you is that prevention science has been evolving over the last decade and a half, as well.  And so what we thought might have worked 10 to 15 years ago, we actually find that there's not a lot of evidence for it.

And so we're -- have been following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Violence Prevention and what we're finding is -- is that there are a number of policies and trainings that -- that are out there, that are at work, and as a matter of fact, the academies are -- are testing some of those even as we speak.

The Air Force Academy is currently using EAAA, which is a -- an intervention that addresses sexual assault and it's -- was reviewed in the National -- in the New England Journal of Medicine as being particularly effective.

And in addition to that, we're looking at some of those other efforts at the academies and assessing them in this formal evaluation.  You're -- and so as a result, when these -- once these programs have been evaluated, that's when we'll know what works and what doesn't, and that's -- and -- and we are committed to doing that.

So thanks, Lita, for those questions.

MODERATOR:  All right. Over to Alexandra with NBC.

Q:  Hi, thank you for taking my question.  I just wanted to sort of go back to the norms accepted and the norms acknowledged, that sort of system.  Is there -- are there any policies in place, any systems in place or that are -- are -- should be in place, that -- or you are recommending to be in place, to sort of rectify the discrepancy in things that are acknowledged versus things that are accepted, that -- you know, are -- are there any policies in place, there are any systems in place that are going to address the fact that there's a certain expectation for others but the self-behavior and the peer side of it is sort of unmatched?

DR. GALBREATH:  Agreed.  So that's the next step in this effort, is we have provided this information back to the academies and then also made recommendations for how they can address these -- these norms in their prevention programming, and also enlist those peer leaders in helping move the needle on that -- on -- on changing those attitudes.

Q:  And just a quick follow-up, is -- is there something that you guys believe, following this report, that needs to be done more so to affect the general culture of the academies?

DR. GALBREATH:  Overall, we are always looking to help cadets and midshipmen understand the importance of -- of a healthy climate that is respectful, that is inclusive and that values everyone's contribution.  This work is largely part of that mission to help every -- to help them understand that as leaders, they are responsible for fielding units that are healthy and ready to go, and not distracted by these kinds of behaviors.  So yes, this is part of the overall character and -- and mission-ready focus of the academies for new leaders.  Over.

MODERATOR:  All right, over to Ellee Watson, CBS.

Q:  Hi.  Thanks for doing this.  If I'm reading this correctly, just -- this is the largest number of reports since 2015.  Can you explain why they've risen?  And then can you also answer what prompted the outside organization to look at some those prevention programs, and when that will be completed?  Thank you.

DR. GALBREATH:  Yes, thank you for that.  So with regard to the increasing in -- in reports, again, I just want to make a very -- a -- an overall comment.  Don't forget that this -- the reports that you see on this -- on the slide here aren't the -- is not a crime rate.  Essentially, our prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment that we assessed via survey gives us an understanding of the occurrence of sexual assault and the number of folks that are impacted by it yearly.  The reports that we receive help us understand what slice of the pie -- of the problem are -- are we actually seeing in folks receiving help.

So the reason why -- so there could be two reasons why reports went up:  either that there was more crime to -- to report, or that people overall are encouraged and feel more confident coming forward and making those reports.  What I can tell you is in the -- at the academies we are -- we are putting all the policies in place that we can to encourage greater reporting because again, greater reporting of the crime allows us to help more victims, and also gives us the opportunity to hold offenders appropriately accountable.

And with regard to the -- the assessment of -- of the program that we -- and the evaluation program that we put in place, we contracted with a University of Chicago National Opinion Resource Center, NORC, to take a look at the prevention education at both the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy as part of a -- an overall contract that we have with looking at prevention activities writ large throughout the force.  And we anticipate that we'll have some answers.  This is a several-year process to see if, you know, if -- what kinds of behaviors we're changing, and so we anticipate having some results of it within a couple of years.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  All right, over to Heather with USNI News.

Q:  Thank you so much.  I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the cases that actually go to court-martial, and any issues that you're seeing with the -- the lack of cases that end up at a court-martial, and how that might affect, you know, the -- the environment at academies, but also the fact that you have officers that go into the service after they finish academies.

DR. GALBREATH:  Yeah, absolutely.  So keep in mind that when we talk about sexual assault, we're talking a range of behaviors addressed by military law, and that could be touching crimes like groping, or penetrative crimes like sexual assault or -- or -- or rape.  So it's a -- it's a spectrum of crimes that we see here.  So not every single crime, or not every single report of sexual assault may be appropriate for court-martial.  Certainly, the cases -- every case is investigated and then provided to the superintendents at the academy who conduct a legal review of the case, along with their judge advocate generals, to determine how best to address the offenses alleged and -- and what evidence there might be to -- to prove that the crime occurred.

So this year, there were 11 court-martial charges preferred at the academies.  Other crimes that -- we also had a number of other cases where a sexual assault was alleged, but we only had evidence to prove a nonsexual assault offense.  So that could have been a crime like a -- a -- a false official statement or a simple assault, something like that.

So again, with regard to the -- the -- the prosecution of these cases, there's a range of measures that can be used to go -- to -- to get after those.  But we do have a fair number that -- where we weren't able to take action against the alleged offender because there was insufficient of a crime to prosecute, or a victim decided that they didn't want to participate in the justice process any longer, and so they -- and so they declined to participate further.  Over.

Q:  If I could quickly follow up with that, the cases are used if there wasn't enough evidence to move forward, are -- are there any -- are you looking into how cases are -- or -- or -- incidents are investigated at academies and whether there is a -- some kind of problem within, you know, those cases?  I know so many of them are a he-said-she-said, or she-said-she-said.  But any look into, you know, whether the investigators are doing enough of a thorough investigation?

DR. GALBREATH:  Absolutely.  As a prior criminal investigator myself, I personally don't like the term he -- he-said-she-said because what I will tell you is, is that while there might be limited information about what occurred when these two people were together in a room, oftentimes there are behavioral indicators that we can assess and -- and as good investigators find if we do a -- a thorough and conduct a -- a good investigation about not just the offense itself, but the alleged offender.

And as a matter of fact, that's the approach that OSI, CID and NCIS have taken over the last few years in building out their capabilities within their investigator force.  And as a matter of fact, every single criminal investigative organization in the DOD now requires their sexual assault investigators to go to a specialized training course which addresses the neurobiology of trauma and the impact of trauma on memory and recall in victims, as well as the -- as other investigative techniques that can help them interview victims effectively, and -- and in addition to that, to recover evidence, not only technologically-based evidence, but also, of course, we're always working to up -- step up our game with regard to the kinds of forensics examinations that are conducted at the DOD at our U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Laboratory, as well.  So yes, heavy focus on improving what we do there.

MODERATOR:  All right, over to Karoun with Task & Purpose.

Q:  Hi, thank you so much for doing this.  I just wanted to clarify one thing and then I had a question.

This was -- this year's reports -- the number of reports is the highest number of reports that occurred during military service since this started being recorded.  Is that correct?

DR. GALBREATH:  That's correct.

Q:  OK, great.  I just wanted to make sure I was reading that correctly.

And then my question is given the dip last year -- and you mentioned, you know, part of that was attributed to the fact that the academies closed early due to the pandemic -- does that sort of track with what you all are seeing as far as how many reports usually come at the end of the academic year?  That -- you know, because they closed, I think you said there near the end of the fourth quarter, and they missed -- and it dropped about 40-ish reports, does that -- does that make sense or track with what you all are seeing as far as the timeline in the year and when those kind of things are reported?

DR. GALBREATH:  It -- it does, as a matter of fact.  One of the things that we did is we looked into the data to compare quarterly reporting, both in Program Year '18-19 and '19-20, and what we found is the first three quarters of '18-19 and '19-20 were really on par with each other, with regard to the level of reports.

And then, what we found is, when the academies closed at the beginning of the fourth quarter and we saw no further reports come in, that's where we saw that dip.  So yes, they were on -- the reports were on track for another year of 122 reports or more.  Does that make sense?

Q:  Great.  Thank you.  It does, yes.

And then also just one other clarifying -- I just wanted to make sure I'm understanding this correctly -- academic program year, is that August to May or -- or however the -- the academic year pans out?

DR. GALBREATH:  Close -- close.  It's June 1 through May 31st.

Q:  Oh, great.  OK, thanks.


MODERATOR:  All right, over to Elizabeth Howe with Defense One.

Q:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  I had a question, hopefully you can answer it -- the number of reports keeps increasing in this particular assessment and it's chalked up largely to an increase in trust in the system, cadets are -- feel more -- more confident that they can report, but is there a -- a threshold or a turning point that would indicate it's no longer about increase of trust and it's about an -- an increase of actual assaults or harassments or -- or crime, or is this assessment really meant just to assess the level of trust the cadets have in the system and the -- the number of -- the increase is expected to continue?  Thank you.

DR. GALBREATH:  Thank you very much.  So the goal of the department is -- overall is to decrease how often sexual assault occurs, as measured by the survey, through prevention efforts, and then to increase the number of reports received from cadets and midshipmen, or service members in general.

And -- and the -- the reason why we're doing that is because sexual assault is vastly underreported.  In other words, it occurs much more often than is ever reported to -- to law enforcement, and that's true for not only the military but also for civilian sector, as well.

So to your point specifically about how -- how much more increasing of -- of reports do we want to see, we would like to see the day where whoever experiences sexual assault feels free to report it.  So that's why we compare our reporting data to the prevalence data in this -- in the surveys every year.

So to be -- to be very clear, in 2017 and 2018, the number of cadets and midshipmen we estimated experienced a sexual assault was at an all time high.  And so there were an estimated 747 reports of -- or -- or -- excuse me -- estimated cadets and midshipmen who experienced a sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed.

If you look at the slide that I'm showing you, that year, we received 92 reports.  That's 12 percent of the 747 that we estimated were out there.  So our goal is to get that to 100 percent, that we would like to see every sexual assault reported so that everybody can seek care.

We know we're a long way off from that but that's why our goal is to reduce how often sexual assault occurs so that there aren't any more victims.  But then, of course, we would always want to see, you know, greater reporting until that time, as well, so that we can care for more folks.

I hope that makes sense.  I know it's -- it's two different metrics that kind of go -- that we track at once, but again, this is a -- this is a -- this is not a simple problem to solve.

Q:  Perfect.  Thank you.

DR. GALBREATH:  Thank you.  And just to let you know, the comparative number of reporting in the active force is 30 percent.  So in 2018, we saw one in three folks that experienced assault -- a sexual assault make a report to law enforcement.  So again, a long way to go with regard to reporting at the academies.

MODERATOR:  All right.  Caitlin with Stars and Stripes.

Q:  I just want to dig a little bit deeper into the numbers -- and you may have said some of this -- but just looking for some clarification.  Talking about prevalence, can you explain to me how that is different than what we're seeing on the sexual assault reporting page?


Q:  And also, looking at how -- is there a -- there's a lot of focus obviously on the number of victims who were sexual -- sexually assaulted but we -- do we know how many students perpetrated those sexual assaults?

DR. GALBREATH:  Thank you for that.  So on slide 21 of your deck, I've given you the prevalence rates of sexual assault for the academies, and also comparatively, similar prevalence rates for -- for colleges and universities in the American Association of Universities' last survey.

But on the left-hand side of the screen, the prevalence rates at the academies -- you can see almost 16 percent of women and about two and a half percent of men in 2018, on our last survey, indicated at least one experience with sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed.

When I take those rates -- in other words, if -- when I take that 16 percent of women and 2.4 percent of men and I make -- and I -- what I can do with that is, because our surveys are done in a way that are generalizable to the full population of 12,000 cadets and midshipmen, we can estimate the numbers of folks impacted by sexual assault, and that is -- that number is 747 for 2018.

So that essentially becomes my denominator and -- in understanding just how many people experienced sexual assault.  Now, if I go back very quickly -- sorry to do this -- but if I go back very quickly to this slide, what I'm showing you is the number of folks that actually reported the crime.

So let's go to that '17-18 year that you see right here -- and see if I can very quickly go -- at least right here in the '17-18 year that you see, and there were 92 -- whoops, sorry -- there were 92 reports that year.  That's 12 percent of that 747 estimated prevalence.  So again, that's -- that's how we do the -- the math here.  We would like to see that 12 percent increase to 100 percent.  We'd like to see everyone report.  But the goal of -- over time is to actually see that prevalence decrease instead of increase, and so that's why we're investing heavily in prevention.  Does that make sense?  Did that get to your question?

Q:  That does, and I'm also wondering, the number -- the total number of students from 2020-2021 so I can get a percent -- percentage of what that 131 is of total student population.

DR. GALBREATH:  Oh, OK.  I don't have that at my fingertips, but I know Dr. Klahr does and we'll -- we'll probably -- we'll get that to you through Lisa.  I just don't have that right here.

Q:  OK.  And then my question, again, about how many of the 131 reported, how many of those were perpetrated by students.

DR. GALBREATH:  What our survey data tells us is that the vast majority of cases that are reported to us are perpetrated by other cadets and midshipmen.  So I -- I -- I don't have an exact figure, but I can tell you that most of that 131 were perpetrated by other cadets and midshipmen.

Q:  Is there any work that might be done to focus more on how many midshipmen are committing the attacks, rather than focusing on the number of victims?  There's just a lot of focus, you know, on the victim side of it, when I think we could -- maybe there's a way to assess data of how many people perpetrate the assaults.

DR. GALBREATH:  I couldn't agree with you more.  As a matter of fact, that's the gold standard of prevention research, is to understand why people offend the way that they do.  And -- and as a matter of fact, that's some of the work that we're doing right now in the broader DOD survey that you -- that is in the field right now, and we have a number of questions that get after perpetration.  We have also asked a number of questions about perpetration of sexual assault in other DOD surveys, and that's really the -- the direction that we're headed.

It's very difficult, though, to do -- to do perpetration work in this mission space though, because again, this is -- it's -- it's very challenging to talk to people to -- in -- in a way that they'll be honest with you, and forthcoming about their behavior.  But again, we're not letting that stop us, and we're also working very closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a broader focus on change the -- changing the behavior of people to respect others' boundaries and to work -- use what works in this space.

So again, that's real -- and in addition to that, you'll see that from the secretary's independent review commission there's a recommendation that we do more work to assess changes in perpetration rates, and that's exactly our way forward.  So thank you so much for asking that.

Q:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  All right, we have time for one more question.  Is there anyone on the line that has a question that has not had a chance to ask?

Q:  Can I ask a -- just a -- this is Karoun Demirjian from the Washington Post.  Just a quick clarification question kind of going off the numbers that people were trying to clarify a moment ago.  Just the one stat that I'm not seeing -- and maybe this is because of the -- the assessment year versus -- versus survey year, but the percentage that -- that the 131 in the 2021 cycle, is that -- do you have a ballpark estimate of what percentage of the actual reported were expectation, you know, that the -- the prevalence, excuse me -- that would be?  Because it seems like that percentage, at least on the chart that you're showing right now, has been dropping the last few cycles, even though you're saying you're -- you hope that the reports will, you know, become closer to 100 percent.  So I'm just wondering if you know what that -- that percentage estimate is for this -- these latest rounds of numbers, or when you would know that, if you don't know that now.

DR. GALBREATH:  I don't -- I don't know that now, but I -- I will this -- after we conduct our survey for this spring, so I'll be back here in a year to tell you what that is.

Q:  OK.

DR. GALBREATH:  But we -- we didn't do a survey this year so I don't have that updated number.

Q:  Does -- does that put your one-year offset change the way that the numbers compare to each other?

DR. GALBREATH:  No, because what we'll do is -- is we'll -- I'll have an updated number of reports for you next year so there'll be a -- while I -- I missed the opportunity to assess that 131 with the survey this year, next year I'll have a -- an aligned number of reports and an aligned survey period.  That will...

Q:  OK.

DR. GALBREATH:  That will allow me to give you that information.

Q:  OK.

MODERATOR:  All right, everyone, that -- that concludes the -- the roundtable for today.  Again, if you have any additional questions after the roundtable, please follow up with myself and Major Dietz, who are the primary points of contact on the media advisory.  Again, thank you for participating, and we will talk to you soon.