A Department of Defense report of initial findings released on August 21 confirmed the claims of former cadets that sexual assault is a widespread problem at the Air Force Academy. According to the report, 18.8 percent of female cadets (109) indicated that they had been the victims of at least one sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while at the academy, 7.4 percent of which (43) indicated they had been the victims of at least one rape or attempted rape. The percentages are even larger for the graduating class of 2003, with 24.2 percent (31) indicating they had been the victim of at least one instance of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault and 11.7 percent (15) saying they had been the victim of at least one rape or attempted rape.
Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, commandant of the academy, told cadets on Friday that the misconduct had tarnished the reputation of the Air Force Academy, the Los Angeles Times reports. “If you think this problem has been blown out of proportion by the media, you are wrong,” he told the LA Times. The Associated Press reported that Lt. Gen. John A. Rosa, the superintendent currently in charge of the academy after top commanders were replaced in April, criticized previous commanders, saying, “I don’t buy that nobody knew what was going on.” A majority of the female cadets surveyed denoted that they did not believe that the previous command had made “honest and reasonable efforts” to prevent sexual harassment, but 96 percent had faith so far in the present command’s efforts. The DOD plans to conduct a more thorough survey of all three service academies in the fall of 2003.