According to recent data from the Pentagon, sexual assault allegations involving military members increased by nearly 50 percent during the past fiscal year. In quantitative terms, the Defense Department received 3,553 complaints in the first three quarters alone.

The complaints are not necessarily limited to intra-service member conduct, however. Complaints brought by civilians or involving alleged civilian victims also contributed to the count.

Military officials have attempted to spin this data in a positive light, suggesting that sexual assault victims might feel more comfortable reporting sex crimes under the military’s new procedures. As a sex crimes attorney might caution, however, the potential for false accusations might be present even in the military.

Part of the problem may also lie with false perceptions. The techniques used in boot camp and military training exercises are different than in corporate America. The potential for physical contact, as part of those exercises, may also be increased. As a result, the distinction between military training and sexual assault may not be as clearly defined.

In responding to sexual assault complaints, it is important to treat all parties with confidentiality and respect. In many cases, forensic evidence can get to the truth behind any accusations. With the help of an attorney, anyone accused of a sex crime can take comfort in knowing that any claims of criminal misconduct must be supported by evidence that persuades a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney that is experienced in defending against sex crime charges may also be able to help hold prosecutors at bay.

Source: nytimes.com, “Reports of Military Sexual Assault Rise Sharply,” Jennifer Steinhauer, Nov. 7, 2013