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Sep 11, 2013 4:35 PM by associated Press

Official: Reports of sex assault in Navy increase

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The number of sexual assaults being reported to the Navy has grown by about 50 percent over the previous year.

The Navy said Wednesday it is on pace to end the 2013 fiscal year with more than 1,100 sexual assaults. That's up from the 726 sexual assaults in reported in the previous fiscal year.

The Navy released updated estimates after Rear Adm. Sean Buck spoke with reporters at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

Buck is the Navy's top sexual assault prevention and response officer. He says the uptick in sexual assault reports was expected and is a positive sign that sailors feel more comfortable coming forward to report assaults.

A Defense Department report has estimated that 26,000 service members have been sexually assaulted, but fewer than 3,000 were officially reported.

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