By Courtney Kube and Jeff Black
Just a week after an Air Force lieutenant colonel working in its sexual-assault prevention office was arrested and accused of sexual battery, a second U.S. service member assigned to a military sexual assault program is being investigated for various forms of sexual misconduct, officials revealed Tuesday.
A U.S. Army sergeant first class, assigned to III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, is now under investigation for pandering — a prostitution solicitation charge — abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates, the Pentagon said.
A Defense Department source told NBC News the publicly unidentified soldier allegedly forced at least one subordinate soldier into prostitution and sexually assaulted two others.
This soldier was assigned as an equal opportunity advisor and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program coordinator with one of the III Corps' subordinate battalions when the allegations came to light.
He has been suspended from his duties pending an investigation.
Since the soldier has not been charged and the Army has not released his identity. Special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are conducting an investigation.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was informed about the allegations against the Fort Hood soldier on Tuesday, said George Little, Pentagon spokesman.
“I cannot convey strongly enough his frustration, anger, and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” Little said.
Hagel has directed Army Secretary McHugh to fully and rapidly investigate the case “to discover the extent of these allegations, and to ensure that all of those who might be involved are dealt with appropriate,” Little said in a statement.
In addition, Hagel ordered all branches of the military to re-train, re-credential, and re-screen all sexual assault prevention and response officers as well as military recruiters.
“Sexual assault is a crime and will be treated as such,” Little said. “The safety, integrity, and well-being of every service member and the success of our mission hang in the balance.”
Calling the latest investigation "disturbing," U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she will unveil legislation Thursday to reform the military justice system in the prosecution of sexual-assault crimes to remove "chain of command influence." Senior commanders now have the ability to overturn guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases.
"To say this report is disturbing would be a gross understatement," Gillibrand said. "For the second time in a week we are seeing someone who is supposed to be preventing sexual assault being investigated for committing that very act."
The latest report comes after a string of bad news regarding the military's effort to staunch sexual assaults in its ranks.
On Monday, May 6th, the Air Force officer in charge of its sexual-assault program, Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, was arrested in an Arlington, Va. parking lot for allegedly groping a woman.
Police said the 41-year-old officer grabbed a woman's breasts and buttocks just after midnight. She managed to fight off her assailant.
Krusinksi was charged with sexual battery. The Air Force removed him from his position pending an investigation.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released its annual report from the DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, which find a spike in sexual assaults.
According to the report, 3,374 incidents of "unwanted sexual contact" occurred within all branches of the Armed Forces in the 2012 fiscal year. That is a 6 percent increase from the previous year, when there were 3,192 reports.
The results of an anonymous survey, however, showed that an alarming 26,000 respondents said they had been sexually assaulted in the past year, compared to 19,000 respondents in last year's survey.
President Barack Obama said last week he has “no tolerance” for sexual assault in the military. He made the comments in the wake of a new Pentagon report showing the instances of such crimes have spiked since 2010.
The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said. “‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
(To read original article, visit this NBC News link )