The Pentagon, to provide support for military victims of sexual assault, has set up a telephone hotline and a system for secure online chat sessions, according to a spokesman.
The new SafeHelpline.org program is part of the Pentagon's effort to aid victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent assaults. The phone line will be open around the clock, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Thursday. Two-hour chat-room sessions will be held twice a week.
"This new service allows victims of sexual assault to participate in group chat sessions to connect with and support one another in a moderated, secure, online environment," Warren said.
Congress is considering proposals to change the way the military investigates and prosecutes sexual attacks after the Defense Department released results of a survey that estimates there were 26,000 cases of sexual assaults last year. The survey was released amid an uproar over reported attacks that President Barack Obama has described as "shameful and disgraceful."
The military is pursuing three cases in which officers who worked in sexual-assault prevention programs were accused of wrongdoing, including assault, mistreatment of subordinates, and inducing prostitution.
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