Report | May 17, 2021

Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Handling of Incidents of Sexual Assault Against (or Involving) Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (DODIG-2021-085)

Evaluations

Publicly Released: May 20, 2021

Objective

The objectives of this evaluation were to determine whether:

  • United States Naval Academy (USNA) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office personnel provided SAPR services to midshipmen‑victims of sexual assault as required by DoD and Navy policy;
     
  • United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents investigated reports of sexual assaults involving midshipmen‑victims in accordance with DoD, Navy, and NCIS policy;
     
  • USNA commanders and decision makers retaliated against midshipmen‑victims by separating them from the USNA for reporting sexual assault; and
     
  • the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD[P&R]) annually reported the correct number of midshipmen‑victim reports of sexual assaults to Congress.

Background

The purpose of the USNA SAPR program at Annapolis, Maryland, is to provide a 24-hour‑a-day, 7-day-a-week sexual assault response capability to support midshipmen‑victims of sexual assault. Additionally, USNA SAPR personnel are required to provide crisis intervention to midshipmen‑victims, inform midshipmen-victims of their reporting options, refer midshipmen‑victims to victim support services, and provide on‑going support to midshipmen‑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 our evaluation, we made the following determinations.

  • USNA SAPR Office personnel provided SAPR services to midshipmen‑victims of sexual assault and victim support services were available to midshipmen‑victims of sexual assault at the USNA, as required by DoD and Navy policy. However, we determined that USNA SAPR personnel did not have a process or system to document “contacts and consults” with midshipmen‑victims who chose not to make an official report of sexual assault or a means to document any resulting referrals to victim support services.
     
  • NCIS agents responded to and investigated reports of sexual assault in accordance with DoD, Navy, and NCIS policy.
     
  • USNA commanders and decision makers did not retaliate against the three midshipmen‑victims who departed the USNA during the scope of our evaluation by separating them from the Navy for reporting their sexual assaults.
     
  • Midshipmen-victim reports of sexual assault were accurately reported to Congress as required by Public Law 109-364.

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 that recommendation, the DoD SAPRO Director agreed to develop a process that documents consults and contacts with victims of sexual of assault and any resulting referrals to victim support services if those contacts do not result in an official report of sexual assault. We reiterated that recommendation in Report No. DODIG-2020-073, “Evaluation of the DoD’s Handling of Incidents of Sexual Assault Against (or Involving) Cadets at the United States Military Academy.” On October 16, 2020, DoD SAPRO issued an update to the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID) that allow Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to document SAPR‑related inquiries, made by “victims or non‑victims” who choose not to make an official report of sexual assault. For the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, DoD SAPRO will collect feedback on the update, with the expectation that documenting SAPR‑related inquiries will be a requirement starting FY 2022 (October 1, 2021). Given the pending policy release, we did not make additional recommendations concerning SAPR‑related inquiries in this report. This update to the DSAID resolved this recommendation in Report No. DODIG-2019-125.

In the same report, we also recommended that the DoD SAPRO Director include a data field in the DSAID to record the reason that reports of sexual assault are archived. The DoD SAPRO Director agreed to update the database to include a data field to record the reason that reports of sexual assault were archived. On October 16, 2020, DoD SAPRO issued an update to the DSAID allowing DSAID administrators to document the reasons for a DSAID record being archived. This update to the DSAID resolved the recommendation 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. We provided a discussion draft of this report to the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, the United States Naval Academy, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. DoD SAPRO officials concurred with our report and provided minor editorial comments, which we addressed. The United States Naval Academy and Naval Criminal Investigative Service personnel responded to the discussion draft report with no comments.

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2020-DEV0SV-0126.000.