West Point Staffer Accused Of Planting Cameras In Female Showers, Locker Rooms
More sexual harassment problems for the U.S. military:
WASHINGTON — A sergeant first class on the staff of the United States Military Academy at West Point faces charges for allegedly videotaping female cadets without their consent, sometimes when they were in the shower, according to Army officials.
The Army is contacting a dozen women to alert them that their privacy may have been violated and to offer support or counseling as required, officials said.
The suspect, 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. Sergeant McClendon, who had been assigned to the school since 2009, was transferred to Fort Drum, N.Y., after charges were filed on May 14, Army officials said.
During his tenure at West Point, Sergeant McClendon served as a “tactical noncommissioned officer,” described in academy personnel documents as a staff adviser “responsible for the health, welfare and discipline” of a company of 125 cadets. The person in the position is expected to “assist each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of physical, military, academic and moral-ethical programs.”
The student body at West Point numbers about 4,500 cadets; just over 15 percent are female.
The allegations at West Point, the nation’s oldest and most prestgious military academy, came in the midst of growing outrage in the armed services, in Congress and even from President Obama over reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military — and at the failure of official efforts to reduce the problem and protect victims. They also come as the Army has begun integrating women into a number of combat positions, bringing added demands for fair and equal treatment of those in uniform.
“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 made no announcement of the charges against Sergeant McClendon, but provided details after The New York Times learned of the inquiry from several current and former members of the West Point community who said they were alarmed by the allegations and wanted to learn of the academy’s plans to investigate and prevent future violations.
If proven, the violation of privacy and trust alleged in the filming of female cadets could have a significant negative impact on whether the Army is seen as an inviting career for young women.
To say the very least. This is the third or fourth story about a sexual abuse in the military to be made public inside of the last month, and it feels like there’s only more to come. Clearly, the military needs to get a handle around this quickly, and impose serious, perhaps career ending, consequences on people for misbehavior in order to get this under control.