HomeReportsAll DoD OIG Reports

Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Handling of Incidents of Sexual Assault Against (or Involving) Cadets at the United States Military Academy (DODIG-2020-073)

Evaluation

PRINT  |  E-MAIL

Publicly Released: March, 26, 2020

 

Objective

The objectives of this evaluation were to determine whether:

• United States Military Academy (USMA) Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Office personnel provided SHARP services to cadet‑victims of sexual assault as required by DoD and Army policy;

• United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) agents investigated reports of sexual assaults involving cadet‑victims in accordance with DoD, Army, and CID policy;

• USMA commanders and decision makers retaliated against cadet‑victims by separating them from the USMA for reporting sexual assault; and

• the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD[P&R]) annually reported the correct number of cadet‑victim reports of sexual assaults to Congress.

 

Background

 The purpose of the USMA SHARP program at West Point, New York, is to provide a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week sexual assault response capability to support cadet‑victims of sexual assault. Additionally, USMA SHARP personnel are required to provide crisis intervention to cadet‑victims, inform cadet‑victims of their reporting options, refer cadet‑victims to victim support services, and provide on‑going support to cadet‑victims of sexual assault.

In addition, the Secretary of Defense is required to submit reports to Congress related to sexual assaults in the military, including the number of sexual assaults that occur at the Military Service Academies each year.

 

Findings

Based on evaluation, we made the following determinations:

• USMA SHARP personnel provided SHARP services to cadet‑victims of sexual assault and victim support services were available to cadet‑victims of sexual assault at the USMA as required by DoD and Army policy. However, we determined that USMA SHARP personnel did not have a process or system to document “contacts and consults” with cadet‑victims who chose not to make an official report of sexual assault or a means to document any resulting referrals to victim support services.

• CID agents generally responded to and investigated reports of sexual assault in accordance with DoD, Army, and CID policy.

• USMA commanders and decision makers did not retaliate against cadet‑victims by separating them from the USMA for reporting sexual assault.

• Cadet‑victim reports of sexual assault were accurately reported to Congress as required by Public Law 109‑364. Furthermore, we determined that the Army Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database Program Administrator archived reports of sexual assault. However, a process was not in place to document the reason that reports were archived in the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database.

 

Recommendations

In DODIG Report No. DODIG-2019-125, “Evaluation of the DoD’s Handling of Incidents of Sexual Assault Against (or Involving) Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy,” September 30, 2019, we made a recommendation to the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) Director to develop and institute a process that documents consults or contacts with victims of sexual assault and any resulting referrals to victim support services if those contacts do not result in an official report of sexual assault. In response to this recommendation, the DoD SAPRO Director agreed to develop a process that documents consults and contacts with victims of sexual assault and any resulting referrals to victim support services if those contacts do not result in an official report of sexual assault. The USD(P&R) informed us that the intent is to deploy the revised policy and capability for this in the fall of 2020.

In the same report, we also recommended that the DoD SAPRO Director include a field in the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database to record the reason that reports of sexual assault are archived. The DoD SAPRO Director agreed to update the database to include a field to record the reason that reports of sexual assault were archived. The USD(P&R) informed us that its intent is to deploy the database change for this capability in the fall of 2020. This change would cover the USMA, as well as the other service Academies. Therefore, we did not repeat the recommendations made in Report No. DODIG-2019-125.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

We did not make any recommendations; therefore, we did not require management comments. However, we received comments on the findings from the Chief of Staff of the United States Military Academy, responding for the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. See Appendix C for a summary of the management comments and our response.

 

 

This report is the product of Proj. No. D2019-DIPOIV-0157.000