(USA TODAY) -- Pentagon estimates of how many troops are sexually assaulted show thenumbers increased by more than a third since 2010, from 19,300 servicemembers believed to be victims that year to 26,000 in 2012, according toDefense Department survey to be released this week.
The findings,which the Pentagon acknowledges show that "sexual assault is apersistent problem and there is more work to be done," comes at a timewhen the focus on this abuse within the ranks is growing in intensity.The Air Force reported Monday that its chief sexual assault preventionofficer was arrested over the weekend for allegedly groping a woman.
Meanwhilein Congress, legislators are drawing up bills that would take thedecision for prosecuting these cases out of the hands of commandingofficers and allow military lawyers to decide -- a move that militaryleaders say would hurt their ability to maintain order and discipline.Legislators, however, say that under the current system victims declineto step forward out of concern that their complaints will not be takenseriously.
Twice in recent months, three-star Air Force generalshave come under fire for throwing out sexual assault convictions forlower-ranking officers.
According to the Pentagon survey results,only about one in 10 victims who are sexually abused stepped forward tocomplain last year. That amounted to 3,374 cases in 2012, of which onlyabout 3,000 chose to press charges. "Far fewer victims report sexualassault that are estimated to experience it on an annual basis," says awritten summary of the Pentagon findings.
The full Pentagon report on sexual abuse is scheduled for release some time this week. The summary was provided to USA TODAY.
Thesurvey revealed that while the rate of men suffering sexual abuse hasremained steady since 2010, the rate of female victims increased fromabout one in 23 to one 16 last year.
Also Tuesday, Air Forceofficials addressed the latest sex scandal to hit the service: thearrest of the officer who led its Sexual Assault Prevention and Responsebranch on sexual battery charges.
Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Forcechief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that hewas "appalled at the deeply troubling allegations" against Lt. Col.Jeffrey Krusinski. Krusinski was arrested early Sunday morning inArlington, Va., not far from the Pentagon, after he allegedly grabbedthe breasts and buttocks of a woman he did not know. He was drunk at thetime, according to the police report.
Krusinski will be arraigned on Thursday, Welsh said.