On Wednesday, the US Army announced that a sergeant first class at the United States Military Academy at West Point has been accused of secretly filming female cadets as they undressed and took showers.
“The Army is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our cadets at the Military Academy at West Point — as well as all soldiers throughout our Army,” Gen. John F. Campbell, the Army vice chief of staff, said on Wednesday. “Once notified of the violation, a full investigation was launched, followed by swift action to correct the problem. Our cadets must be confident that issues such as these are handled quickly and decisively, and that our system will hold those responsible accountable.”
The Army is in the process of contacting roughly a dozen women whose privacy may have been violated. Counseling will be offered to the potential victims, according to the Army.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who will deliver the commencement address at West Point this weekend, was described by Pentagon officials as “concerned and disturbed” by the accusations.
The case marks the third time this month that members of the US military have faced high-profile accusations of sexual assault. On May 5, the head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program was accused of sexual assault, and on May 14, an Army sergeant in charge of sexual assault prevention at Ft. Hood was accused of forcing subordinates into prostitution. All three accusations took place within two weeks of the release of a Pentagon survey that estimates 26,000 people in the armed forces were assaulted in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010.
The suspect in the West Point case, Sgt. First Class Michael McClendon, faces charges under four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, for indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and actions prejudicial to good order and discipline.
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