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Reports of sexual assaults in military on rise

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Photo - FILE - In this June 4, 2013 file photo, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, center, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing investigating the growing epidemic of sexual assaults within the military. The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent this year. Defense officials suggest that victims are becoming more willing to come forward. The increase follows a tumultuous year of scandals that shined a spotlight on the crimes and put pressure on the military to act aggressively. From left are, Judge Advocate General of the Army Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brig. Gen. Richard C. Gross, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this June 4, 2013 file photo, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, center, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing investigating the growing epidemic of sexual assaults within the military. The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent this year. Defense officials suggest that victims are becoming more willing to come forward. The increase follows a tumultuous year of scandals that shined a spotlight on the crimes and put pressure on the military to act aggressively. From left are, Judge Advocate General of the Army Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brig. Gen. Richard C. Gross, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense officials say that victims of sexual assault in the U.S. military may be more willing to come forward amid heightened attention to the crime. That's one explanation offered for why the number of reported sexual assaults rose by more than 50 percent this year.

More than 5,000 reports of sexual assault were filed during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared to the 3,374 in 2012. The Associated Press obtained the early data.

About 10 percent of the 2013 reports involved incidents that occurred before the victim got into the military, up from just 4 percent only a year ago.

Officials say the increase suggests that confidence in the system is growing and that victims are more willing to come forward.

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