By the numbers

DoD has published the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for 2015.

Of the 6,083 initial complaints filed last year, about 1,500 were “restricted,” meaning the victim was a service member who reported the assault but refused to participate in any criminal investigation and only sought healthcare and victims’ support services.

(We don’t know how many of these would be substantiated by an MCIO, and then proceed further into the process.  Because there is no investigation it is unreasonable to include these cases in statistics about prosecution and conviction rates.)

In 2015, military criminal investigators reviewed 4,584 “unrestricted” reports from victims who were willing to participate in a potential prosecution[.]

(This is a little off.  “Willing to participate in” an investigation would be a better way to express this.  There are plenty of complainants who decide they don’t want to participate in a prosecution.  Reasons for a desire not to ‘go to court’ are many.)

After completing investigations, 2,783 cases were sent to military commanders.

. . . .
Commanders launched court-martial proceedings against the alleged perpetrator in 926 cases. Among those, 159 were closed because the alleged perpetrator resigned from the military,

(“Resigned” is an odd choice of word.  Officers resign, enlisted personnel are discharged at the end of their contract or for some other administrative reason.  Allowing an officer to resign is a choice by the Service.  Both officers and enlisted personnel may be held over their contract for the purposes of investigation and potential prosecution, by law.  Are they saying perhaps that by the time–an all too common occurrence in cases I’m getting these days–that the report was made the suspect had already left the Service and there was no longer subject to military jurisdiction, for example?  Also, someone who is retired might be recalled to active duty for prosecution–I have a number of these cases as do my colleagues.)

and 111 were closed because the case was dismissed in pretrial proceedings.  Of the 543 cases that ultimately went to court-martial, 130 resulted in not-guilty verdicts.
Of the 413 troops convicted at court-martial, 161 resulted in charges unrelated to sex assault.

(I wonder how many of the 161 were convicted of fraternization and adultery.  Not uncommon where those are add on charges to the sexual assault allegation and there’s evidence of or a defense of consent.)

In 254 cases, a service member as convicted of a sexual assault-related offense.

How many of these complaints were false.  We don’t actually know.  No-one can credibly argue that they all are, or for that matter that those not “sent to commanders” (1801) were false.  There could be many reasons for a finding by law enforcement that there was no credible evidence to support the case and so it need not be referred to the commander.  I do think it is relevant that MCIO’s do not use the probable cause standard.  They use a lower standard to determine if the complaint is substantiated.

Here is another interesting number.

504 victims (approximately 10%) made a report for incidents that occurred before they entered into Military Service.

The military has no jurisdiction over these cases–none!  So, to use these cases in a critique of the military response to sexual assaults is plain wrong.  But I expect to hear people conflating these numbers.  You can argue many things from the numbers.

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