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Report: Sexual Misconduct Not Widespread in Secret Service

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 07:29 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The U.S. Secret Service has no widespread issues with employees engaging in sexual misconduct while on the job, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report says.

The report comes a year-and-a-half after more than a dozen agents and officers were involved in a prostitution scandal while President Barack Obama was visiting Colombia, reports The Washington Post.

The report backs up Secret Service claims that the agents' activities were not indicative of widespread problems within the agency, while showing that there have been isolated cases, such as the Colombia incidents.

Investigators recommended 14 new guidelines for the Secret Service to implement to help it identify and address misconduct, and noted the agency has already started 11 of the suggestions.

But while the inspector general's office did not find evidence that "USSS leadership has fostered an environment that tolerates inappropriate behavior," it warned the agency to "continue to monitor and address excessive alcohol consumption and personal conduct within its workforce."

The investigation also revealed another incident in 2010, in which an agent was accused of employing foreign prostitutes while on a trip. Colleagues said the agent came back to work after a long absence smelling of alcohol.

Like the Colombia incident, the 2010 occurance happened "while employees were off duty supporting a Presidential protective visit in a foreign country."

Thirteen Secret Service employees were accused in the Colombia incident of soliciting prostitutes, CBS News reports. Out of those, three agents returned to duty, six either resigned or retired, and another four had their "clearances revoked and were removed."

But the report may face scrutiny, reports The Post, because it centers on an anonymous electronic survey of employees. Out of 6,500 agents given the evaluation, 2,575, or less than half, responded. Out of those, about 83 percent said they were not personally aware of incidents of sexual misconduct.

Last month, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson complained in a letter to the Inspector General's office that the survey asked employees to "speculate about the personal, sexual, and potential criminal activities of co-workers" and to respond "through rumor and gossip."

She also said the agency already implemented guidelines to improve standards, even before investigators made their list of recommendations.

The report may also face questions because the investigator's office itself is under a Senate investigation. Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards quit Monday after he and his top deputies were accused of altering Secret Service reports to take out information that could embarrass the agency and the Obama administration.

Carlton Mann, who has replaced Edwards as acting inspector general, signed off on the Secret Service report.

Related stories:

More Firings Expected in Secret Service Scandal

Kessler to Newsmax: Secret Service Prostitutes May Be Underage Girls

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