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By Eric Heinz
According to a report published in November by the Department of Defense (DoD), Camp Pendleton received more than 600 reports of sexual assault from its personnel in a four-year period.
Reports were classified as unrestricted, which can lead to an investigation and provide further details of an allegation, or restricted, which provide fewer details but are logged by military records.
Carl Redding, the communication director for Camp Pendleton, said that caution needs to be used when comparing these statistics to other bases in the report, as some of the reports come from on base, off base, at other bases and during active duty.
“Just like comparing reports by city or county in the United States, one would not expect the number of sexual assault reports from a less populated location to be comparable to the number of sexual assault reports from a more populated location,” Redding said.
Redding noted that Camp Pendleton has about 25 percent of the active duty Marines.
“No definitive statement can be made about a crime rate at a given installation based on the reporting data,” he said. “This is because a number of the reports may concern allegations that have occurred elsewhere in the world or occurred prior to joining the military, but were reported at the installation named.”
The document, Reports of Sexual Assault Received at Military Installations and Combat Areas of Interest, covers a broad range of definitions of sexual assault. It compiled reports from fiscal year 2013 to 2017.
“…(We) are unable to determine at our command substantiated reports, courts martial etc. since there are multiple commands on the installation like I Marine Expeditionary Force, Training and Education Command, various Navy commands and others,” Redding said when asked which individual divisions received their number of complaints. “The reports given by the Department of Defense don’t break it down by commands.”
Currently, Camp Pendleton has a process for filing a complaint, which must go through the base’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program. SAPR’s mission is two-fold: to address the needs of military members, their spouses and adult dependents that have been victims of sexual assault, and to proactively provide relevant, interactive training on a regular, continuous basis to all Marines and Sailors aboard MCB Camp Pendleton in an effort to eliminate sexual assault.
It provides “24-7 sexual assault crisis intervention for all service members, spouses and adult dependents; advocacy and accompaniment during medical, law enforcement and judicial proceedings; systemic advocacy to ensure all victims receive a consistent response to their report; support and services at next duty station (if the victim requests) through the SAPR network.”
At this time, Redding said there are no expected changes to policies on Camp Pendleton to addressing sexual assault reports.
Editor’s note: An abridged version of the responses from Camp Pendleton was published in the Jan. 4-10 edition of the San Clemente Times.