When a sexual assault occurs at a US military academy, the victim faces the difficult decision of whether to file a restricted or unrestricted report. The key difference is an unrestricted report begins an official investigation by the military justice system, while a restricted report does not.
During the 2021–22 academic year, there were initially 140 restricted reports of sexual assault at military academies, but 26 reporters (19%) later changed their reports to unrestricted ones. At the end of the year, there were 114 restricted reports, the highest number ever received by the military academies on record.
At the three military academies where the most recent sexual assault data was collected, enrollment ranges from 4,307 to 4,594 students.
The percentage of reports converted from restricted to unrestricted fluctuates from year to year, ranging from a low of 7% in 2008–9 to a record high 30% in 2016–17. At 19%, the 2021–22 share of converted reports lies in the middle. Conversely, once an unrestricted report is filed, it cannot be changed to a restricted report.
In 2005, the military introduced restricted reporting. This new option allowed victims to confidentially make reports without notifying their commanders, which the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office noted could deter victims from seeking help. Instead, victims can directly disclose the assault to a sexual assault response coordinator or a victim advocate. They can also receive medical treatment, a sexual assault forensic exam, counseling, chaplain services, special victim counsel, and legal advocacy.
If a victim chooses to file an unrestricted report, military authorities will launch an official investigation, and both their command and law enforcement will be notified. The victim will have access to the same services mentioned above, and can request protective and support measures like an expedited transfer or military protective order.
Who’s filing restricted reports?
Women filed 89% of restricted reports, while men filed 11%.
Of all the restricted reports, 64% involved military academy students as both victims and alleged perpetrators. Another 17% involved a non-student alleged perpetrator and a student victim, while 13% involved a student alleged perpetrator and a non-student victim. The remaining 7% involved a student victim and alleged perpetrator who was unknown to the victim.