DoD Releases FY16 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (that lacks a clear definition of sexual assault)
On May 1, 2017, The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office released its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (available here). The report provides lots of data ripe for misinterpretation. Two things caught my attention.
First is the failure to provide a clear definition of sexual assault:
In this report, DoD uses the term “sexual assault” to refer to a range of crimes, including rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, and attempts to commit these offenses, as defined by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Report at 6 (emphasis added). This definition is ambiguous enough to include more than just the listed offenses; a definition limited to just the listed offenses wouldn’t mention a range of crimes but would instead just list the included offenses.
But even if the definition is limited to the listed offenses, the plain language of the statutes is remarkably broad. The statutory definition of sexual contact, for example, is so broad that it includes throwing a dodgeball at a person with the intent to abuse, humiliate, or degrade that person, if the dodgeball hits the other person in the buttocks. See United States v. Schloff, 74 M.J. 312 (C.A.A.F. Jul 16, 2015) (CAAFlog case page). And the statutory definition of rape is broad enough to include a situation like this:
The second thing that caught my attention is this text found on the first page of the report:
I can only assume that this refers to the estimated cost of this report or study, since report and study are singular.