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Soldier in sex-assault prevention role accused of abuse

WASHINGTON -- A sergeant 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 yesterday.

The announcement came just one week after an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot.

The two cases highlight a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress and expressions of frustration from Pentagon leaders.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said after yesterday's announcement that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is angry and disappointed at "these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply."

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his panel is considering a number of measures to counter the problem.

The Army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates. He is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, but no charges have been filed, the Army said. He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army's 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, when the allegation arose.

Army Secretary John McHugh said the Army is moving forward with Hagel's instruction to retrain, re-credential and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters.

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