WASHINGTON : Reports of sexual assault at the three US military academies jumped 55 percent in academic year 2014-2015 while sexual harassment complaints also rose, according to media reports, citing a new Defense Department report.

The Pentagon review of sexual harassment and assault reports at the US Military Academy, West Point; the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland; and the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, found that 91 reports were filed during the school year ending May 2015, with more than half of those - 54 - filed as unrestricted, meaning they can be fully investigated by the military commands and law enforcement.

Eight of the reports were filed for incidents that occurred before the victim entered military service. The scademy saw the largest increase from the previous year, with 49 reports, including 27 unrestricted and 22 restricted, almost double he 25 reports in school year 2013-2014.

West Point cadets in 2014-2015 filed 17 reports, including 15 unrestricted and two restricted, and Naval Academy midshipmen filed 25 reports, nearly equally split between unrestricted and restricted.

Pentagon officials say the increase actually has a positive aspect in that it represents a “growing trust in the system” to handle complaints appropriately, and reflects a concerted effort by the military schools to reduce harassment, promote prevention and improve response.

The report noted that the Air Force Academy’s numbers for the most recent year are more in line with reports in previous years and the lower number for school year 2013-2014 may have been an anomaly.

“We’ve seen a lot of the progress we expected to see when [then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] last year ordered the superintendents to take sexual assault prevention and response programmes under their direct supervision,” said Nathan Galbreath, senior executive adviser for the Defense Department Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, or SAPRO.