By PAULINE JELINEKWASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon says reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by an unprecedented 46 percent last year.
Officials said Thursday there were 3,553 assault complaints in the first three quarters of the fiscal year from October 2012 through June. That's up from 2,434 reports the year before.
It's not possible to know whether the spike represents an increase in sexual assaults, an increase in reporting them, or both.
Defense Department officials say it's a sign people are more confident about coming forward, now that improvements are being made to the military's system for handling assaults.
The year's partial figures were released at a hearing by an independent panel reviewing how military sexual assaults are investigated and prosecuted.(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)