Midshipmen speak out against sexual assault

Video follows 'It's On Us' campaign launched by Obama, universities

September 30, 2014|By Matthew Hay Brown | The Baltimore Sun

Midshipmen at the Naval Academy have filmed a video pledging to fight sexual assault at the academy and in the Navy and Marine Corps.

"It's on us — USNA," a 90-second video, was posted Monday on YouTube. It features a succession of midshipmen, male and female, in uniform and Navy athletic gear, standing before different landmarks on the Annapolis campus, looking into the camera and reading lines.

"If midshipmen are persons of integrity, and if we stand for that which is right, then we must stand for each other," the script reads, in part.

"Sexual assault? It's our problem. And it's our mission to create an environment where our brothers and sisters are safe, and feel respected."

The spot comes after the investigation last year of an alleged sexual assault by three Navy football players on a female midshipman at a party in Annapolis in 2012 drew national attention to the academy.

The academy declined to bring charges against one of the accused and dropped charges against a second. The third was acquitted at a court-martial.

The spot follows the "It's On Us" campaign launched this month by President Barack Obama, universities and advocacy groups to confront sexual assaults on campus. Organizers are trying to enlist students and others to pledge to prevent sexual assaults before they occur, and to support victims.

Midshipman Christopher DiOrio, the academy's brigade commander, or highest-ranking midshipman, raised the campaign in a recent message to the brigade.

"This is about raising awareness, holding each other accountable, and looking out for one another," he wrote. "Let's rally behind this cause."

Spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield said the academy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office reached out to midshipmen about the video project, and those who appear were selected by peers in the brigade.

Fifteen assaults were reported at the Naval Academy during the 2012-2013 academic year, the most recent for which data have been released. That was up from 13 the previous year.

Officials and others believe the majority of assaults go unreported. Officials say an increase in reports could indicate a growing confidence among victims to come forward.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

twitter.com/matthewhaybrown

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