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Marine Corps admits failure in curbing sexual assaults

June 25, 2012 |  8:30 pm

There were 64 reported sexual assaults at Camp Pendleton and 24 at Twentynine Palms' Air Ground Combat Center in the last fiscal year, according to a Marine Corps report released Monday. Also, three were reported at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and nine at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

In all, there were 333 sexual assaults in the Marine Corps, according to the report.

"Despite our efforts, we have been ineffective at addressing and eliminating sexual assault within our ranks," Commandant Gen. James Amos wrote in the precede to the report.

The report details an aggressive assault prevention program -- including better training for all ranks from recruits to generals, a better reporting system for victims, and a policy of holding commanders responsible for the investigation of all assault allegations and setting a "command climate" that discourages assaults.

"A command climate in which inappropriate behavior -- sexual harassment, sexual jokes, innuendoes, etc. -- is tolerated raises the risk of sexual assault and decreases the likelihood that victims will report," the report said.

In most cases, the victim knew the attacker and one or both had been drinking, according to the report. "Many offenders act deliberately, seeking out both a vulnerable target and an opportunity."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered all the services to improve programs to curb sexual assaults. The documentary "The Invisible War," about the problem of sexual assault in the U.S. military, is set to arrive in theaters this weekend.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego