Sexual assaults at the nation’s military academies increased sharply in the last academic year, according to a new report from the Department of Defense.

Accounts of sexual assault rose by nearly 60 percent during the 2010-2011 academic program year. A total of 65 reports involved cadets and midshipmen compared to a total of 41 reports in the prior year.

While the Defense Department was unable to cite definitive causes for the increase, the report did say efforts by the academies to encourage victims to report incidents of sexual assault could have played a role in the swell of cases.

As part of the review, site visits were conducted at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Policies, training and procedures at the academies also were reviewed, and focus groups were held with cadets and midshipmen.

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