Defense Department data: Military dependents are sexually abused hundreds of times a year

Defense Department data show the children of service members are sexually assaulted hundreds of times each year.

The abuse of military dependents is committed most often by male enlisted troops, according to the data provided exclusively to The Associated Press. More than 61 percent of the cases involved parents sexually abusing their children.

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 in the military's legal proceedings. With more than 1 million military dependents, the number of cases appears statistically small. But for a profession that prides itself on honor and discipline, any episodes of abuse cast a pall.