By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An Army sergeant at the U.S . Military Academy at West Point has been accused of videotaping female cadets in the shower, a defense official said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of sex-related incidents that has rocked the military.
Sergeant Michael McClendon was charged this month with four violations of U.S . military law: indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and actions prejudicial to good order and discipline, Army spokesman George Wright said.
Wright said McClendon was being investigated for possession of inappropriate images taken without consent .
He did not elaborate.
The New York Times, which initially reported the incident, said the pictures included female cadets in the shower, which a defense official confirmed on condition of anonymity.
“The Army has notified those involved and offered support services at their individual locations,” Wright said. “It appears to be at least a dozen or more alleged victims who may have been photographed without their consent.”
McClendon, who had served at the prestigious military academy in New York, since 2009, was transferred to Fort Drum in New York after the charges were filed on May 14, Wright said.
McClendon served as a tactical noncommissioned officer at the academy, a job that put him in charge of mentoring and training a company of about 121 cadets, focusing on leadership development and other responsibilities.
General John Campbell, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said the service moved to address the situation at West Point as soon as the problem was reported.
“Our cadets must be confident that issues such as these are handled quickly and decisively, and that our system will hold those responsible accountable,” he said.
The report of charges against McClendon follows a spate of sex-related incidents that have embarrassed the U.S . military and prompted members of Congress to introduce legislation designed to toughen up the Pentagon’s handling of sex crimes.
A study released by the Defense Department two weeks ago estimated that incidents of unwanted sexual contact in the military, from groping to rape, rose 37 percent in 2012, to about 26,000 cases from 19,000 the previous year.
The report was released just days after Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, who led the Air Force sexual assault prevention effort, was charged with sexual battery involving a civilian woman in a parking lot not far from the Pentagon.
Several days later a U.S . Army sergeant who worked as a sexual assault prevention coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas, was accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact and assault.
Lawmakers in the Senate and U.S .
House of Representatives are moving ahead with steps to toughen the military’s response to sex-related crimes and provide better treatment for victims.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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An Army brigadier general who commanded a South Carolina post has been suspended for allegedly having a physical altercation with a mistress, officials said Tuesday.
Brig . Gen . Bryan T .
Roberts, the top commander at Fort Jackson, is the latest in a string of senior military officials who have come under investigation for alleged misconduct . The case comes amid an outcry from lawmakers and other critics who say the Pentagon is failing to address pervasive sexual harassment and assault in the ranks.
The allegations are being thoroughly investigated, said Harvey Perritt, a spokesman for the Army Training and Doctrine Command . Perritt said the Army s criminal investigations division is handling the probe .
Army officials did not say when the incident is alleged to have taken place or how it came to their attention . Perritt said Roberts would not be available to comment. A defense official said Roberts got into a physical altercation with a woman with whom he was having an affair .
These are not allegations of sexual assault or harassment, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. If investigators find enough evidence, Roberts could be charged with assault and adultery, which is a crime under military law. Brig .
Gen . Peggy C . Combs, who runs the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., will take over Roberts s duties until the matter is resolved, the Army said in a statement .
Roberts had been at the helm of Fort Jackson, a large Army training base, since April 10, 2012. Two other Army generals have been investigated in recent months for allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct . Brig .
Gen . Jeffrey Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was charged last year with rape and other charges that involved an affair with a subordinate . His case has not gone to trial .
Maj . Gen . Ralph O .
Baker, who led a counterterrorism force in Africa, was fired in March after being investigated for allegedly groping a woman while he was under the influence of alcohol.
The Army disclosed last week that it was investigating a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas assigned to be his unit s sexual assault prevention officer for alleged sex abuse and prostituting a fellow soldier.
The officer is being investigated by the army criminal investigation command, but no charges have been filed . Photograph: Anja Niedringhaus/AP
A soldier assigned to co-ordinate a sexual assault prevention program in Texas is under investigation for “abusive sexual contact” and other alleged misconduct and has been suspended from his duties, the US army has announced. The disclosure comes a week after a US air force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot.
The army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates . He is being investigated by the army criminal investigation command . No charges have been filed.
He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the army’s 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, when the allegation arose, the army said. “To protect the integrity of the investigative process and the rights of all persons involved, no more information will be released at this time,” an Army statement said. The back-to-back army and air force cases highlight a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress and expressions of frustration from top Pentagon leaders . Pentagon press secretary George Little said after Tuesday’s announcement that defense secretary Chuck Hagel is angry and disappointed at “these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply”.
Little said Hagel met with army secretary John McHugh earlier Tuesday and ordered him to “fully investigate this matter rapidly, to discover the extent of these allegations and to ensure that all of those who might be involved are dealt with appropriately”. Hagel also is directing all the services to retrain, recredential, and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters, Little said. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, issued a statement Tuesday evening saying his panel is considering a number of measures to counter the problem, including changes to the military justice code, and will act on them next month.
“Tragically, the depth of the sexual assault problem in our military was already overwhelmingly clear before this latest highly disturbing report,” Levin said. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said she intends to present new comprehensive legislation on Thursday to reform the military justice system by removing chain-of-command influence from prosecution of sex abuse crimes. “To say this report is disturbing would be a gross understatement,” Gillibrand said. “For the second time in a week we are seeing someone who is supposed to be preventing sexual assault being investigated for committing that very act.”
House armed services committee chairman Howard McKeon said in a statement he was “outraged and disgusted by the reports out of Fort Hood” . McKeon, noting he has a granddaughter in the army, said he saw “no meaningful distinction between complacency or complicity in the military’s latest failure to uphold their own standards of conduct . Nor do I see a distinction between the service member who orchestrated this offense and the chain of command that was either oblivious to or tolerant of criminal behavior .
Both are accountable for this appalling breach of trust with their subordinates.” The army announcement comes as the Pentagon continues to struggle with what it calls a growing epidemic of sexual assaults across the military . In a report last week, the Defense Department estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, based on survey results.
Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incident, and nearly 800 of them simply sought help but declined to file formal complaints against their alleged attackers. The military is struggling with a variety of sexual assault scandals, including an ongoing investigation into more than 30 air force instructors for assaults on trainees at Lackland air force base, Texas, and the recent arrest of the air force’s head of sexual assault prevention on charges of groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot. A police report said that air force Lt Col Jeffrey Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman’s breast and buttocks .
The woman fought him off and called police, the report said . A judge has set a July 18 trial date for Krusinski. Congressional outrage over these incidents and two recent decisions by officers to overturn juries’ guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases has prompted outrage on Capitol Hill.
Air force Lt Gen Craig Franklin reversed the conviction of Lt Col James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano air base in Italy, who was found guilty last year of charges of abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and three instances of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
Senator Claire McCaskill is holding up the nomination of air force Lt Gen Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the US space command, until McCaskill gets more information about Helms’ decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.
Members of Congress also met at the White House with senior administration officials to talk about measures to encourage more victims to come forward and ensure that perpetrators face justice.
By Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Jeff Black, NBC News The head of the Army s equal opportunity and sexual assault-prevention office at Fort Campbell, Ky., has been relieved of his duties, the Pentagon said. He is the third sex-abuse prevention officer to be dismissed in the past to 10 days.
However, the Fort Campbell Army officer, whose name was not released, was dismissed over a domestic dispute with his wife, not a sexual-assault case, the Pentagon said. The Army lieutenant colonel was arrested by civilian authorities for violating a protective order that was sought by his estranged wife, according to the Pentagon . The couple are in the process of getting a divorce .
The officer was released today on a $15,000 bond.
He holds a protective order against his wife, as well. Two other cases involving sex-assault prevention officers do involve sex-abuse-related charges. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said an Army sergeant first class, assigned to III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, is under investigation for allegedly forcing at least one subordinate into prostitution, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates .
He has been suspended from his duties pending an investigation. Sen . Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is joined by colleagues on Capitol Hill while introducing sexual assault legislation that would reform the military justice system.
On May 6, the Air Force officer in charge of that service’s sexual-assault program, Lt . Col . Jeff Krusinski, was arrested in an Arlington, Va .
parking lot1 for allegedly groping a woman. Krusinksi was charged with sexual battery and removed from his position pending an investigation. Sen .
Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Armed Services Committee, is spearheading a bill to prevent military commanders from handling sexual assault cases that involve subordinates. Related: Gillibrand leads Senate charge for protocol changes in military sexual assault cases2
Army sergeant assigned to sex-abuse prevention being investigated for pimping, sexual assault3 Air Force’s sex-abuse prevention honcho charged with sexual battery4 Obama: ‘No tolerance’ for military sexual assault5
- ^ was arrested in an Arlington, Va .
- ^ Gillibrand leads Senate charge for protocol changes in military sexual assault cases (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- ^ Army sergeant assigned to sex-abuse prevention being investigated for pimping, sexual assault (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- ^ Air Force’s sex-abuse prevention honcho charged with sexual battery (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- ^ Obama: ‘No tolerance’ for military sexual assault (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- ^ ‘Every American should be outraged’: Military sees sharp increase in sex-assault cases (usnews.nbcnews.com)
WASHINGTON (AP) The Army‘s top officer is telling soldiers that after demonstrating courage and resilience in 12 years of war, it’s time for them to make the fight against sexual assault their primary mission.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno sent a message to the force Thursday saying that sexual assault and harassment violate the trust between soldiers and leaders and are contrary to Army values.
He told soldiers at Fort Riley, Kansas, that the increase in military sexual assaults leads people to believe that the Army is unable to police its own ranks .
He says sexual harassment and sexual assaults “eat at the very core of what we are about trust.”
Odierno and other military leaders are meeting with President Barack Obama Thursday on the escalating sexual assault crisis.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) An expert in Afghan culture testified Wednesday that pornography found on the computer of a U.S . Army general then deployed to the Muslim country would be highly offensive to local residents.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency adviser Morwari Zafar made the comments at a pre-trial hearing for Brig . Gen. Jeffery Sinclair .
A court-martial for the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne is set to begin June 25 on charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery.
Among the orders Sinclair is accused of violating is a prohibition against U.S . troops in Afghanistan possessing pornography.
Called as a witness by prosecutors, Zafar’s eyes widened when a prosecutor showed her printed photos investigators pulled from Sinclair’s hard drive.
“They would be absolutely offensive to Afghans in general,” said Zafar, who was born in the country and is now earning a doctorate in anthropology. “Pornography is illegal in Afghanistan.”
The military pornography ban, and a similar order barring possessing alcohol, are in place in an attempt to keep soldiers and Marines from offending the socially conservative country where U.S . troops have been stationed since 2001.
Lawyers for Sinclair asked a military judge this week to drop the charge against the general, arguing this week the military porn ban violates his First Amendment rights to free speech.
On cross-examination, Zafar agreed with defense lawyer Richard Scheff that pornography is available for sale in some Afghan markets and on the Internet, despite its illegal status in the country.
The defense has not provided an explanation for how pornography got on Sinclair’s personal computer .
He has not yet entered a plea on any of the charges he faces.
Earlier in the case, military lawyers for Sinclair suggested in court that someone else could have downloaded the images, possibly even the female aide he is charged with assaulting.
This week, new civilian lawyers added to the defense team made the constitutional argument without directly saying the pornography had been stored on the computer by their client . Additionally, there was no evidence any Afghan ever saw the images or had the opportunity to be offended, Scheff said.
Sinclair’s former commander in Afghanistan, Maj . Gen .
James Huggins, testified Tuesday that he issued the order to “maintain good order and discipline.”
“It is against the stated policy because of the cultural sensitivity of the Afghan people,” Huggins said, adding that if anyone had found the images it would have hurt Sinclair’s effectiveness.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan last spring before being relieved during the criminal investigation . He has been on special assignment at Fort Bragg since May 2012.
A 27-year Army veteran and married father of two, Sinclair faces life in prison if convicted on the sexual assault charge.
A female captain who worked for Sinclair on deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq says she carried on a three-year sexual relationship with Sinclair . Adultery is a crime under military law, and the admission could end her career.
She testified at the evidentiary hearing last year that she repeatedly tried to break off the affair but that on two occasions after they had argued he exposed himself and physically forced her to perform oral sex .
The woman says the general also threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about their relationship.
The Associated Press does not publicly identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
Two other female officers who served with Sinclair also testified that they had given the general nude photos at his request.
Military judge Col . James Pohl agreed Tuesday to a request to drop a charge that Sinclair violated an order by possessing alcohol while in Afghanistan . An unopened bottle of scotch was found in his quarters a gift defense lawyers said came from a top Pentagon official on a goodwill visit.
Pohl also granted a defense motion to compel testimony from former Fort Brag commander Gen .
Dan Allyn and current base commander Maj . Gen . Jeffrey Colt.
Sinclair’s legal team alleges that high-ranking Pentagon officials may have placed improper pressure on Allyn to refer charges against Sinclair as the military struggles to deal with a string of embarrassing sex scandals.
It was not immediately clear when Allyn and Colt will be available to testify .
Officials said both aren’t on the base this week.
Follow Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck.
- Prostitution-related activity may have been involved, an official says
- Number of service members anonymously reporting sexual assault is up by more than 30%
- “No meaningful distinction between complacency or complicity,” says Rep . McKeon
- Soldier was assigned to a sexual harassment and assault response program
(CNN) — For the second time this month, a U.S . service member who worked in a military sexual assault prevention program has been accused of a sexual crime.
In the latest incident, an Army sergeant first class assigned to such a program at Fort Hood, Texas, is being investigated for alleged sexual assault, pandering, abusive sexual contact and maltreatment of subordinates .
Charges had not been filed as of Wednesday morning.
A Defense Department official says “initial indications” show that are at least one person may have been forced into prostitution activity, but the matter remains under investigation no conclusions have been drawn yet.
The sergeant has not been named . In a statement that does not use pronouns that would identify the gender of the service member, the Defense Department said that the person has been suspended from all duties.
The allegations come as the military is under intense scrutiny for sexual assaults within its ranks . The number of service members anonymously reporting a sexual assault grew by more than 30% in the past two years, according to a Pentagon report released last week.
More than 26,000 troops experienced “unwanted sexual contact,” a significant jump from 19,300 troops, a figure reported in a 2010 report on the topic.
The news of the Fort Hood case comes as the military prepares for a historic move: opening combat roles to women for the first time .
It’s unclear how that might affect the apparently increasing problem of sexual assault.
The department’s own research indicates that both genders are victimized . Consider that 10,700 of the 19,300 troops were men, according to the 2010 report.
On Wednesday, the investigation into the Fort Hood case continued as special agents from the U.S . Army Criminal Investigation Command were in charge.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was told about the case Tuesday and met with Army Secretary John McHugh.
“I cannot convey strongly enough his frustration, anger and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” Defense Department spokesman George Little said of Hagel.
Hagel has ordered that all service members working in sexual assault prevention units be retrained and screened again .
If they pass, they will get new credentials.
That should also apply to personnel and military recruiters.
An Air Force officer who was arrested the first weekend in May1 on allegations that he attacked a woman and groped her buttocks and breasts in an Arlington, Virginia, parking lot was a personnel officer by training, said Gen . Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff.
In February, Lt . Col .
Jeffrey Krusinski was placed in charge of a branch of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, and he oversaw a five-person office, an Air Force official told CNN after the incident . The official declined to be named, citing the ongoing law enforcement case.
Shortly after Krusinski’s arrest, military officials appeared before a congressional panel for an already scheduled hearing on sexual assault in the military . Welsh described Krusinski when he was asked what made him qualified to work in the sex assault prevention program.
Krusinski, 41, is a 1994 graduate of the Air Force Academy who served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan .
He made an initial court appearance last week . He did not enter a plea.
During the hearing, lawmakers brought up yet another case that has made headlines involving sexual assault . Lt .
Col . James Wilkerson III was found guilty last year by a jury of Air Force officers of sexually assaulting a woman at his home outside Aviano Air Base in Italy.
He spent four months in a Navy brig before Lt . Gen .
Craig Franklin, the convening authority in the case, threw out the verdict.
Franklin was the officer who ordered Wilkerson’s court-martial at Ramstein Air Base in Germany . But military law allowed him to have the final say.
“After considering all matters in the entire record of trial, I hold a genuine and reasonable doubt that Lt . Col .
Wilkerson committed the crime of sexual assault,” Franklin said in a letter to the Air Force secretary released publicly this week.
Pentagon officials told CNN that it is rare for charges to be dismissed in this manner . The decision angered victims’ rights groups and some members of Congress.
“I am extremely disturbed,” said Sen . Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who chaired a hearing last month on the issue. “I don’t know how you can say that having 19,000 sexual assaults and rapes a year is discipline and order.”
Reports of sexual assault appear to be weighing heavily on higher-ranking officers.
“This is so contrary to everything upon which the Army was built,” McHugh, the Army secretary, has said during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee. “To see this kind of activity happening in our ranks is really heart-wrenching and sickening.”
He spoke generally about sex abuse crimes in the military.
“As I said to our new Brigadier General Corps when I spoke to them about two weeks ago, ‘You can do everything from this point forward in your military career perfectly, but if you fail on this, you have failed the Army,’ ” McHugh reportedly said.
There were 3,374 sexual crimes reported in the military in fiscal year 2012, a 6% increase over the previous year, according to the Defense Department report issued last week.
Military officials worry that many victims don’t come forward because they fear retaliation .
But the numbers might indicate that more victims are willing to report crimes than in the past.
On Monday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon said he was outraged and disgusted by the Fort Hood allegations.
He called the case the “latest chapter in a long, sordid history of sexual abuse” in the military.
The military was rocked in the early 1990s by the Tailhook scandal .
A female Navy lieutenant said she had been sexually assaulted at a military convention by other service members.
McKeon, a California Republican, has a granddaughter in the Army.
“I see no meaningful distinction between complacency or complicity in the military’s latest failure to uphold their own standards of conduct,” he said. “Nor do I see a distinction between the service member who orchestrated this offense and the chain of command that was either oblivious to or tolerant of criminal behavior.”
CNN’s Barbara Starr, Dana Ford, Larry Shaughnessy and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.
- ^ arrested the first weekend in May (news.arlingtonva.us)
- ^ After top Air Force officer charged in sex assault, military faces questions (www.cnn.com)
- ^ General defends decision in Aviano case (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- ^ Military rape victims: Stop blaming us (www.cnn.com)
- ^ Survey indicates troubling trend in military sexual assaults (www.cnn.com)
- ^ After assault case, Hagel seeks changes to military legal process (www.cnn.com)
- ^ Revisiting the military’s Tailhook scandal (www.nytimes.com)
A soldier at Fort Hood, Texas is being investigated for operating a prostitution ring . The soldier was the sergeant in charge of sexual assault prevention in a battalion of 800.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S . Army sergeant who worked as a sexual assault prevention coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas, has been accused of sex crimes, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, the second man in the military’s anti-sexual assault effort to be accused since last week.
News of the investigation sparked renewed anger and frustration over military’s inability to deal quickly with its sexual assault problem .
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed disappointment over the “breakdown in discipline” implied by the allegations, and lawmakers voiced outrage.
“This is sickening,” said Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat. “Twice now, in a matter of as many weeks, we’ve seen the very people charged with protecting victims of sexual assault being charged as perpetrators.”
Representative Buck McKeon, a Republican who heads the House Armed Services Committee, said he was “outraged and disgusted” by the reports and that the chain of command bore some responsibility regardless of whether it was “oblivious to or tolerant of criminal behavior.” The Army said a sergeant first class at Fort Hood, whose name was not released, was under investigation for allegations of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates. The sergeant, a member of the Army’s III Corps, had been assigned as a sexual assault response and prevention program coordinator with a battalion in the Corps, the Pentagon said .
The Army suspended the sergeant from all duties after the allegations surfaced, it said. No charges have been filed against the soldier at this time . The investigation of the allegations is being conducted by special agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Hagel was notified of the allegations on Tuesday morning by Army Secretary John McHugh . Hagel urged McHugh to ensure the allegations are investigated quickly and dealt with appropriately, he said. “I cannot convey strongly enough his frustration, anger, and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” Little said in a statement.
Little said the Army and the other military services were in the process of implementing Hagel’s directive to re-train, re-credential and re-screen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters. The investigation of the sergeant came just a week after the head of the Air Force’s anti-sexual assault unit was arrested on charges of sexual battery after allegedly groping a woman in a parking lot in a restaurant district not far from the Pentagon. Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, was suspended from his duties in the sexual assault response office, and his case is being handled by civilian authorities in Arlington, Virginia, who declined an offer from the military to prosecute the case.
Krusinski’s arrest came a day before the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assault in the military, a study that estimated the number of sex crimes involving military personnel soared by 37 percent to 26,000 in 2012, from 19,000 in 2011. The crimes ranged from rape to abusive sexual contact. The military’s problem with sexual assault has prompted some lawmakers to call for the crime to be removed from the military chain of command so it can be handled by experts .
But senior military officers contend the crimes should be handled through the chain of command to ensure commanders are held accountable for discipline.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)