John Hyten testifies before House Armed Services Committee in 2017. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser on Friday publicly accused Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Gen. John Hyten of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2017, the NYT reports.

The big picture: The Pentagon reports that the, "Estimated prevalence of sexual assault for active duty women increased" in 2018. It estimates that 20,500 service members — men and women — experienced sexual assault in 2018, up from approximately 14,900 in 2016. Hyten, Trump's nominee to be the next Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, would oversee 1.2 million active-duty troops if confirmed.

What's happening: Hyten has denied the allegations. A Defense Department official told the Times that the Air Force's investigation into Spletstoser's allegations did not find any supporting evidence, "except for the fact that the two were together at each time that she alleges abusive sexual contact took place."

  • Spletstoser and Hyten privately testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, as Hyten's nomination is examined.
  • An Air Force official tasked with investigating Spletstoser's complaint declined to recommend Hyten to a court-martial in June.

What she's saying: After Hysten was nominated be the next Joint Chiefs vice chair, Spletstoser said, “I realized I have a moral responsibility to come forward," per the Times.

Flashback: An anonymous senior military officer told the AP earlier this month that Hyten kissed, hugged and rubbed up against her in 2017 — and that he "tried to derail her military career after she rebuffed him."

Go deeper: Military sexual assaults reported in Pentagon survey jump to 20,000

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