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Obama: Military leaders 'ashamed' of abuse

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Thursday the nation's military leaders told him they are "ashamed" of their failure to end sexual abuse in the armed services. Obama pledged to "leave no stone unturned" in the effort to halt the abuse, which he said undermines the trust the military needs to be effective.

Obama also said he has asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to lead a process to root out the problem.

"They care about this and they are angry about it," Obama said at the White House after he summoned Hagel, Dempsey and other top defense leaders to discuss a problem thrust to the fore by recent misconduct cases and a Pentagon report showing that up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year.

"I heard directly from all of them that they are ashamed by some of what's happened," Obama said.

Meanwhile, the manager of the sexual harassment and assault response program at Fort Campbell, Ky., was arrested in a domestic dispute and relieved of his post, authorities said Thursday.

Lt. Col. Darin Haas turned himself in to police in Clarksville, Tenn., late Wednesday on charges of violating an order of protection, and stalking, authorities said.

Haas, 42, and his ex-wife have orders of protection against each other, Mayes said. The two are involved in a child custody fight, Clarksville Police Sgt. Chuck Gill said.

Also Thursday, the Army's top officer acknowledged that his service is failing in its effort to stop sexual assaults.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, issued a public message to all soldiers in which he said the "bedrock of trust" between soldiers and their leaders has been violated by a recent string of misconduct cases.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Obama spoke about how sexual assault undermines the trust that men and women in uniform need to work as a team.

He said he wants the military to explore every good idea to fix the problem. Obama said Hagel would consult with Congress as well as other militaries around the world.

Allegations of sexual assault in the military have triggered outrage from local commanders to Capitol Hill and the Oval Office. Yet there seem to be few clear solutions beyond improved training and possible adjustments in how the military prosecutes such crimes.

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