Sex-assault database sought for academies

June 8, 2008 at 6:14 PM

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Federal lawmakers are pushing for a national database to catalog sexual assaults at the U.S. Naval Academy and other military colleges, officials said.

The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Defense to create the database along with standards for reporting sexual assaults, The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who said officials cannot address the problem without accurate reporting. Currently, the academies submit annual reports using their own terms and categories that can change from year to year.

"There was a severe lack of oversight when it comes to incidents of sexual assault and harassment within the academies," Cummings said. "It's kind of hard to act on a problem when you don't know you have it or the extent of it."

The requirements for a database and reporting standards were introduced as amendments to the defense authorization bill that passed the House last month and is pending in the Senate.

The Pentagon has for years planned a national database to track assaults across the department, said Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

"Over the past year, there have been increased requests for sexual assault data by DOD leadership and lawmakers," Smith said. "We have full support of DOD leadership and are moving forward to begin this project."

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