Thu, May 16, 2013 - Page 7 News List

US Army sergeant faces allegations of sex crimes

Reuters, WASHINGTON

A US 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 the military’s inability to deal quickly with its sexual assault problem. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed disappointment over the “breakdown in discipline” implied by the allegations, and lawmakers voiced outrage.

“This is sickening,” said US 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.

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