WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday released a report that saw a sharp rise in sexual assault in the military, highlighting a pandemic the Pentagon is scrambling to stamp out.
According to the report, an estimated 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the 2012 fiscal year, up from 19,000 in the previous fiscal year. However, the military recorded only 3,374 sexual assault reports last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, as many victims chose not to report the crimes for fear of retribution or a lack of justice under the military justice system.
The report came two days after an officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force was arrested and charged with sexual battery.
The problem was condemned by political heavyweights Tuesday in Washington. President Barack Obama, asked about the new numbers during a news conference Tuesday, angrily condemned the problem.
"I have no tolerance for this," said Obama. "If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court- martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged, period."
Many lawmakers were also incensed. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday that the point man in the Air Force charged with sexual battery would "undermining the credibility of the greatest military force in the world."