Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., speaks during the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Photo: Branden Camp
Photo: Branden Camp

Loeffler joins bipartisan group raising alarm about military sexual assault

WASHINGTON -- An uptick in reported sexual assaults among students at U.S. military academies has the attention of Georgia U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and three colleagues who are asking Pentagon officials to provide an explanation.

The group, led by Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday requesting a briefing and hearing. They cite the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, which noted that 122 students reported a sexual assault that occurred during their military service during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Compared to the year prior when 92 sexual assaults were logged, it represents at 32% spike.

“While this sharp increase may reflect an increased willingness to report, it also shows an alarming trend that is heading in the wrong direction,” the group wrote.

In addition to Ernst and Loeffler, both Republicans, the letter was signed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican.

The senators requested a briefing on the report and a meeting with Department of Defense officials to discuss its findings and a plan of action to address the issues. 

“It is incumbent upon the Department of Defense to ensure we provide a safe, respectful and professional atmosphere for young men and women who are preparing to serve our great nation in uniform,” Loeffler said in a statement. “For the victims and our country, we cannot allow sexual assault to stand in the way of our readiness and combat effectiveness.”

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About the Author

Tia Mitchell
Tia Mitchell
Tia Mitchell is the AJC’s Washington correspondent.