Navy, Corps to use surveys to gauge quality of sexual assault programs

Marine Corps officials will visit Beaufort's bases this week as part of a three-month study examining how the Corps responds to sexual assaults within its ranks.

Marines from the Inspector General's Office will visit Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on Wednesday and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Thursday to gauge how Marines feel about the Corps' Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and the prevalence of sexual assault within the Corps.

As part of a study ordered by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the team plans to visit Marine Corps installations nationwide to conduct individual interviews with base command staff and other senior leadership,and hold small focus-group discussions with Marines of all ranks, according to a message from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway.

The team started with units near Headquarters Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.,on June 2 and will conclude with interviews at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., on Aug. 19.

Researchers will use data collected from the interviews and an anonymous, voluntary 20-minute online survey. The survey will end Sept. 1, according to the Corps.

"The Marine Corps routinely does an analysis of its programs to ensure that they are effective," said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, Parris Island spokeswoman. "Aside from the online survey, Marines and sailors here have volunteered to be part of focus groups. They know it is important -- it's how we maintain a strong Marine Corps and Navy team."

According to the Corps, the survey asks such questions -- for example, whether the Marine has ever been sexually assaulted and how aware Marines are of the resources available to them if they have been attacked.

According to a report released earlier this year by the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Response Program, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service fielded 216 cases of reported sexual assault last year, ranging from aggravated sexual assault to rape. The report said women were the victims in nearly 90 percent of all reported cases and that more than half of the cases involved a service member attacking another service member.