The Army’s vice chief of staff on Wednesday approved U.S. Army Europe’s request to extend its program allowing civilians to file confidential, or restricted, reports of sexual assaults, according to an Army news release.
Restricted reporting allows victims to report an assault and receive medical care and advocacy services without triggering a criminal investigation.
The Defense Department is working to allow restricted reporting of sexual assaults throughout the services. Experts maintain that sexual assault victims throughout U.S. society are reluctant to report an assault, forgoing medical and psychological care, to maintain their privacy and avoid being themselves blamed.
USAREUR, which allows soldiers to file restricted reports, offered the option to civilians in a six-month pilot program that ended on Aug. 31. The command had suspended the option for civilians while it awaited Army approval to extend the pilot program.
Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli approved the extension on Wednesday, the USAREUR release said. Civilians now may file restricted reports through Feb. 28.
Kaye Whitley, director of the DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said this week that an oversight manager from her office was in Europe to determine the status of USAREUR’s sexual assault prevention and response efforts, with a focus on the results of the civilian pilot program.
According to USAREUR officials, some 200 sexual assault reports have been filed annually for the past several years. Most of them are “unrestricted,” which triggers a police investigation and requires commanders be notified.
In the six months of USAREUR’s pilot program, just three civilian women made restricted reports.
But the military estimates 80 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported.