Hagel informed Obama of latest sex abuse case
FILE - In this April 29, 2013 file photo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a joint news conference at the Pentagon. A soldier assigned to coordinate 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 Army announced Tuesday. Pentagon press secretary George Little said after Tuesday's announcement that Hagel is angry and disappointed at "these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed President Obama of the latest sexual assault allegations against a soldier who was assigned to prevent such crimes – the second soldier involved in similar accusations – and the president made clear he wants that behavior stopped, officials said
Hagel spokesman George Little told reporters that Hagel’s staff is working on a written directive that will spell out steps aimed at resolving a problem that has outraged lawmakers.
“The president has made very clear his expectations on this issue,” Little said, adding that Hagel told Obama on Tuesday about the allegations facing an Army sergeant first class at Fort Hood, Texas. The sergeant is facing allegations involving three women, including that he may have arranged for one of them to have sex for money, according to a defense official.
The accused soldier, whose name has not been made public, was assigned as a coordinator of a battalion-level sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood. He has been suspended from all duties but has not been charged.
Little said Hagel and Obama see the sexual assault problem in the same light.
“They expect prevention measures at all times, and when prevention isn’t achieved, then both expect accountability,” Little said. He said those are the “core principles” of Hagel’s approach to resolving the problem within the military.
The allegations at Fort Hood are only the latest in a string of cases. A defense official in Washington, D.C., said it was not yet clear whether one of the three women was forced into prostitution.
The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said that the sergeant is also being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting one of the other two women. The allegations involving the third woman were not known.
The case, along with another one involving an Air Force officer, highlights a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress and expressions of frustration from Hagel. Lawmakers said it was time for Hagel to get tough with the military brass.
“This is sickening. 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,” said Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat. “It’s an astonishing reminder that the Pentagon has both a major problem on its hands and a tremendous amount of work to do to assure victims . . . that they are changing the culture around these heinous crimes. Secretary Hagel needs to act swiftly,” Murray said.