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Mabus: Academy ‘failed' at stopping assaults

Jan. 17, 2013 - 01:23PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2013 - 01:23PM  |  
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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus blasted the academy's efforts in stopping sex assaults during a speech today in Arlington, Va.

"We have failed at the Naval Academy, in terms of preventing this," Mabus told attendees at the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium.

His admission comes just days after an Article 32 hearing ended involving a Naval academy instructor — a Marine major — accused of sexually assaulting a female midshipman in April 2011.

Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert visited the school Jan. 7 to address the institution's sexual assault problem. At the event, which was not open to the public, the SECNAV addressed the brigade for 20 minutes.

His office is trying to stamp out cases at both the school and the sea services, while also encouraging victims to come forward.

A report released in late December said that one in seven midshipmen said that they experienced unwanted sexual contact in the previous 12 months. The number of reported sexual assaults dropped from 22 to 15, but experts believe that many more cases of unwanted sexual contact go unreported.

Mabus said it's concerning that people aren't reporting incidents of unwanted contact.

"In terms of reporting, the number of reports went down," Mabus said. "So there's something that's happening that's not right."

Maj. Mark Thompson, 43, was charged with two specifications of fraternization, two of aggravated sexual assault and indecent acts, and three of conduct unbecoming an officer over the alleged incident. His hearing concluded Tuesday, and a decision has not been made whether to proceed with a court-martial.

Thompson is accused of assaulting a female midshipman after the annual croquet match between the Academy and St. Johns College, another school in Annapolis, in 2011.

Changes are already underway at the academy to reduce assaults.

Mabus said the school is using more civilian sexual assault counselors and additional security. He said there is data from the fleet that shows bystander intervention programs are also effective.

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