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There's No Place For Sex Assaults In Military, Obama Says

President Obama delivering the commencement address Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Larry Downing
Reuters /Landov
President Obama delivering the commencement address Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Saying that "those who commit sexual assaults are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong," President Obama on Friday urged Naval Academy graduates to help bring an end to a disturbing series of such offenses.

"They've got no place in the greatest military on earth," Obama said during the commencement address he delivered at the academy's Annapolis, Md., campus.

The president took the opportunity to address the problem of sexual assaults in the military during a speech in which he honored the graduates' hard work, praised the U.S. military for being "the most trusted institution in America" and challenged the new officers to "carry forth the values that you've learned at this institution."

"Our nation needs them now more than ever," Obama said of those values. "We need your honor — that inner compass that guides you not when the path is easy and obvious, but when it's hard and uncertain."

Using C-SPAN's video library, we created a clip of the president's comments about sexual assaults and the challenge he presented to the graduates. It's posted here.

The latest news about such misconduct came Tuesday, when word emerged that a male sergeant at West Point has been accused of secretly videotaping at least a dozen female cadets.

That followed these recent reports:

-- Head Of Sexual-Harassment Program At Fort Campbell Arrested.

-- Military Recruiters, Sex Assault Responders To Be Retrained.

-- Member Of Fort Hood Sexual Assault Response Team Accused Of Abuse.

-- Sexual Assaults In Military Have Increased By A Third Since 2010.

-- General's Dismissal Of Sex Assault Conviction Sparks Anger, Review Of System.

Other NPR reports include:

-- Military's Sexual Assault Problem Is A Cultural One. (All Things Considered)

-- Why Is There So Much Sexual Abuse In The Military? (Tell Me More)

-- U.S. Military Faces More Accusations Of Sexual Improprieties. (Morning Edition)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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