According to the Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton had the second highest number of sexual assault victims in the country. Military reporter Lea Sutton spoke with former Marine Corps Attorney Doug Brown, who said it could be related to heavy deployment cycles carried by units at that base, or factors like close proximity working environments.
The Marine Corps acknowledges they've failed to slow incidents of sexual assault within their ranks, and some of the highest numbers of assaults last year occurred at Camp Pendelton.
A 27-page report released last week by the Marine Corps called the "Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Campaign Plan 2012”, is an aggressive strategy and the Marine Corps has already started implementing it.
More than three-hundred sexual assaults were reported in the Marine Corps in the last fiscal year, and according to the Pentagon, around eighty percent go unreported.
Doug Brown is a former Marine Corps attorney who has handled sexual assault cases as a military officer and as a civilian.
“It’s almost like a club and I think to a certain extent, there's a sense that there's a betrayal to the unit if you report one of your fellow marines for example, as committing a crime.", said Brown.
According to the Marine Corps, the second largest number of sexual assault victims in the country were based at Camp Pendleton; sixty-four in the last fiscal year.
Brown says it could be related to heavy deployment cycles carried by units at that base, or factors like close proximity working environments.
"It's very difficult to know for sure, but one thing is certain: the women seem very uncomfortable about reporting the crime and having anyone follow up on it," said Brown.
Now the Marine Corps has launched this aggressive new campaign. It includes better training for all ranks, an improved reporting system, and a policy for setting a better "command climate" while holding commanders responsible.
Today, Camp Pendleton's Commanding Officer, Brig. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, released a statement saying in part, “One assault is one too many. Sexual assault is a crime completely incompatible with our core values that directly undermines mission readiness, unit cohesion and morale. Our greatest weapon against the crime of sexual assault is engaged and concerned leadership."
According to the Marine Corps report, nine sexual assaults were reported at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, and three at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. In most cases, alcohol was what the Marine Corps called the "weapon of choice" for offenders in attacking their victims.
Lea Sutton covers stories involving San Diego's military community. Send her your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.
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