Hagel: Sexual Assault is a “Scourge” on Military

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 25 2013 4:56 PM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Sexual Assault is a “Scourge” on the Military

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"You will need to not just deal with these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces but rather you must be the generation of leaders that stop it," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said at West Point

Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel didn’t shy away from one of the most important and controversial issues facing the military when he spoke to future military leaders Saturday. Addressing graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Memorial Day weekend, Hagel said it was the responsibility of the young members of the armed forces to help stamp out sexual assault within their ranks, reports the New York Times. "Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal—a profound betrayal—of sacred oaths and sacred trusts," Hagel said. "This scourge must be stamped out."

His words come a day after President Obama delivered a similar message to graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy and comes amid a series of allegations that have engulfed a wide cross-section of the armed services in recent months, points out the Associated Press. The issue is particularly fresh in West Pont, where an Army sergeant was recently charged with secretly videotaping women in the showers. A study released earlier this month by the Defense Department estimated that reports of unwanted sexual contact in the military soared 35 percent in 2012 from 2010, reports CNN.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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