Nightly News   |  May 25, 2013

Hagel: Sexual assault in military ‘profound betrayal’

Karley Marquet’s alleged attack -- just one incident in what has become an epidemic of sexual assaults and misconduct in the U.S. military -- is getting more attention than ever in Washington, prompting strong words from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at West Point. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>>> here at home, the subject of sexual assaults in the military is resognating again with news of an investigation into possible sexual misconduct at the space and misl command in alaska. nbc has learned officers may have had sexual relations with officers under their command. chuck hagel at west point today addressed the em demic and now, a former cadet is telling her story. michael isakoff tonight.

>> two years ago, carly was a west point freshman. a star rugby player who dreamed of becoming an army helicopter pilot. then one night after drinking with a male upper class man, she said she agreed to go to his dorm room .

>> he approaches me and tries to make a move to kiss me and i said no. and from there, he proceeds to push me on the bed and rape me.

>> she said she was confused and frightened.

>> the battle in my head at that point was what's this going to look like? like if i call out for help am i going get in trouble for being in his room?

>> her alleged attack, just one incident in the u.s. military . getting more attention than ever in washington. prompting strong words today from secretary of defense, chuck hagel at west point.

>> sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal. a profound betrayal. of sacred oaths and sacred trust. this scourge must be stamped out.

>> but the problem is only getting worse. the pentagon says there were 26,000 sexual assaults last year up from 19,000 in 2010 . just this week at west point, defense officials charged an ar my first sergeant with using a hidden camera to videotape female cadets in restrooms and showers.

>> the bad behavior is so pervasive, we need to look at fundamental change in the military justice system itself.

>> carly says she did seek justice and reported what happened to her to school authorities, but they concluded there was not enough evidence to charge her attacker. meanwhile as a freshman plea required to do work for upper class men, she said she was still forced to see him.

>> i ended up having o get the trash out of his room a few times.

>> chafs that like?

>> humiliating. degrading. made me furious. to see him still there.

>> she's now suing top military officials. citing privacy west point declined comment on our case. an army spokesman said our cadets must be confident that issues are handled quickly and decisively and that our system will hold those reasonable accountable. she said the assault traumatized her and forced her to drop out while her attacker, she says, is fwraduating today.

>> how does that make you feel?

>> very angry. and scared.

>> michael isakoff, nbc news, washington.