Admiral targets sex assaults


POSTED: Sunday, April 25, 2010

A study disclosed last year that 61 percent of sexual assaults reported in the Navy—averaging 35 cases a month since 2004—involved shipmates assaulting fellow shipmates, Rear Adm. Dan Holloway said.

“;It embarrasses me,”; Holloway told more than 200 Pacific Fleet senior leaders and ship captains at a recent seminar, “;that our own sailors and Marines are assaulting our own.”;

In September, Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared war on the problem of sexual assault and stepped up efforts to eradicate it.

“;Nothing has a more corrosive effect on readiness, good order and discipline than sexual assault.”; Gates said at the time.

Holloway, Pacific Fleet director of personnel, plans and policy, said the Navy has made sexual assault prevention a top priority.

“;It won't be tolerated,”; he said.

Capt. Jeff Breslau, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said the figures discussed by Holloway at the sexual assault workshop were Navywide. There were 148 reported incidents of sexual assault last year in the Pacific Fleet, he said. Sixty-six percent of these reported incidents involved sailors or Marines assaulting fellow military colleagues.

The Navy message at the Ford Island workshop was that the numbers clearly indicate that much more needs to be done to address sexual assault prevention and response, and that the Navy is aggressively taking action to prevent such crimes.

Holloway was one of the key speakers at the workshop at Ford Island's Navy Lodge that focused on prevention and holding bystanders accountable.

The workshop also included a pilot program for peer-to-peer sex assault prevention aimed at developing effective bystander intervention skills. Prevention efforts are focused on assaults between acquaintances and those involving alcohol.

He said that sexual assault victims in the Navy are the youngest and the most junior enlisted sailors. The majority of incidents occurred on weekends and at night.

He said another survey conducted last year by the Navy revealed that roughly one in five females indicated they had been sexually assaulted since they joined the service. The national average is one in eight. There are now 52,000 women serving in the Navy.

Last year, 27 percent of the victims declined to press charges, Holloway added.

In 1994 the Navy created the Sexual Assault Victim Intervention program. Last year it was renamed the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, placing greater emphasis on sexual assault prevention as well as maintaining quality victim response.

Similar workshops and peer-to-peer training have been held in Norfolk, Va., and are slated for Pensacola, Fla., and naval facilities in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.