Former students say military veterans who led J.R.O.T.C. classes in U.S. high schools fashioned themselves as mentors, then used their power to manipulate and abuse. For more than a century, the J.R.O.T.C. program has sought to instill U.S. military values in American teenagers, with classes in thousands of public high schools that provide training in marksmanship, life skills, hierarchical discipline and military history.
But a New York Times investigation — which included an examination of thousands of court documents, investigative files and other records obtained through more than 150 public disclosure requests — has found that the program has repeatedly become a place where retired military officers prey on their teenage students.
In the past five years, The Times found, at least 33 J.R.O.T.C. instructors have been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving students, far higher than the rate of civilian high school teachers in jurisdictions examined by The Times. Many others have been accused of misconduct but never charged.