Hagel Orders Retraining of Military Sexual-Assault-Prevention Officers

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:48 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the retraining of sexual-assault-prevention officers after news emerged of another sex-crime scandal in the armed forces, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.|

Hagel’s order to "re-train, re-credential and re-screen" tens of thousands of military recruiters and sex-assault-prevention officers came in response to the Army’s disclosure Tuesday that it was conducting another criminal investigation of sexual harassment and misconduct, this time of a sergeant who had been an equal-opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual-assault-prevention program at Fort Hood, Tex.

The Army investigation comes just 10 days after an Air Force officer, who led the branch’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit, was arrested in Arlington County, Va., after allegedly groping a woman in a parking lot.

George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said he "cannot convey strongly enough" Hagel’s "frustration, anger and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply."

In the Fort Hood case, special agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command are probing allegations that the noncommissioned officer mistreated subordinates, committed assault and abusive sexual contact, and engaged in pandering, the Pentagon said in a statement.

No charges have been filed in the case, but lawmakers from both parties were furious at the news. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon said in a statement that he was "outraged and disgusted by the reports out of Fort Hood."

Noting that he has a granddaughter in the Army, the California Republican 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," he added.

Meanwhile, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a top Democrat on the Armed Services panel, is planning to introduce legislation this week to change military law, making independent prosecutors responsible for handling sex crimes and other serious offenses within the services.

Hagel's announcement of a retraining program follows a Monday report in The Washington Post that military recruiters across the country have been caught in a string of sexual-assault scandals over the past year.

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