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Friday
Dec272013

Military Sexual Assault Reports Increase by 50 Percent

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Reports of sexual assault in the military are on the rise.

More than 5,000 cases were reported in 2013, a 50% increase from 2012, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Eugene Fidell, an expert on military justice at Yale University, has long called for changes in the way sexual assaults are handled by the military. He says commanders should have less control over how the complaints are handled by military courts.

"There are systemic issues that we've got to get on top of and the Pentagon has been resisting that and that's a fight that isn't over yet," Fidell said.

"The biggest piece of work that Congress should doing it hasn't gotten around to yet which is taking commanders out of the driver's seat," Fidell added.

The Pentagon believes the uptick is a result of more victims coming forward, not necessarily more incidents occurring.

This week, President Obama signed new laws to help prevent sexual assault in the military. One law makes it a military crime to retaliate against victims, while the other law keeps commanders from overturning convictions in sex assault cases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio