A total of 76 out of 346 sexual assaults reported at Marine Corps installations in fiscal year 2011 were in San Diego County, according to military officials.
Between Oct. 1, 2010 and last Sept. 31, 64 cases were reported at Camp Pendleton , three at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and nine at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, according to a newly released 27-page report from the Marine Corps.
There were 333 reports of sexual assaults in the Corps in fiscal year 2011. Within those reports, there were 346 victims because some of the reports involved more than one victim, the Marine Corps reported. The reports range from sexual harassment to rape and other violent acts.
At Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County, where several Camp Pendleton-based Marines often go to train, there were 24 victims of sexual assaults in the same reporting period.
Throughout the Defense Department, a total of 3,192 sexual assaults were reported in fiscal 2011. But earlier this year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta estimated that the total number was closer to 19,000 because so many sexual assaults involving servicemembers go unreported.
In a forward to the report released Monday, Gen. James Amos, the Marines Corps commandant, acknowledged the severity of the scourge of sexual assaults in the military and the failure to cope with it.
"Despite our efforts, we have been ineffective at addressing and eliminating sexual assault within our ranks," Amos wrote.
The report acknowledges that research shows up to 8 percent of sexual assault reports are deemed false but concedes some of those reports "are often immediately dismissed as false and focus on the victim's behavior and reputation rather than the conduct of the offender."
Both Panetta and Amos are named as defendants in an ongoing lawsuit filed by four Marines who claim current and former defense and Navy secretaries and Marine Corps commanders have a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks and zero tolerance for those who report rape, sexual assault and harassment.
Plaintiff Ariana Klay, a former Marine officer, told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes she's happy to see some public acknowledgement of the issue in higher ranks but doubts they are sincere.
"My gut feeling is that it is just more lip service on the issue," she said. "The Marines know when a senior (officer) is doing something because of political pressure or whether they really care about the issue."
Klay is also one of several women featured in a documentary about sexual assault in the military called, "The Invisible War." It was released last week.
Klay has said she was gang raped by a civilian and her commanding officer in her private residence a block away from the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. and that she was further attacked verbally by fellow Marines who later called her a "slut" and "walking mattress."
She has also said she was told by the Marine Corps that she must have welcomed the assaults because she wore make up and skirts in her private life. Prior to being in Washington, D.C., Klay was in Iraq and served a stint at Camp Pendleton.
The Defense Department is also facing a sexual assault scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Four men have recently been charged following allegations that male instructors had sex with, and in one case raped, female trainees during basic training at the base. Military prosecutors have said there could be more arrests before the cases wrap up.
—City News Service