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Hundreds of military children sexually abused annually

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of children of service members are sexually assaulted each year, according to Defense Department records.

The abuse of military dependents is committed most often by male enlisted troops, the data show.

The figures offer greater insight into the sexual abuse of children committed by service members, a problem of uncertain scale due to a lack of transparency into the military’s legal proceedings.

With about 1 million military dependents, the number of cases — 1,584 — appears statistically small, but any episodes of abuse cast a pall over a profession that prides itself on honor.

In releasing the data to the Associated Press, the department omitted the ages of the offenders and victims, locations of the incidents, and the branch of service that received the report of sexual abuse.

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It’s unclear how many incidents resulted in legal action. The cases represent substantiated occurrences of child sexual abuse reported to the Defense Department’s Family Advocacy Program, which does not track judicial proceedings, the department said. An AP investigation in November found more inmates are in military prisons for child sex crimes than for any other offense.