Shock waves from the sexual abuse of female trainees at an Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., school spread beyond the Army Tuesday to the Navy and Air Force.
Defense Secretary William J. Perry and his deputy, John White, ordered the secretaries of the Navy and the Air Force to follow the Army in examining their services’ training programs for any hint of sexual harassment.
They initially gave the order verbally to Navy Secretary John H. Dalton and Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall. A follow-up letter, expected to be delivered today, orders the two to report how their services have communicated the Pentagon’s “resolve not to tolerate sexual harassment or unprofessional relationships at any level of command,” and how effective the communications have been.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said, “We just want to make sure the other services take precautionary looks at this. We don’t have any evidence that there are comparable problems in the other services.”
After charges of rape, sodomy and prohibited personal relationships were announced last week at the U.S. Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Army began investigating other installations under its Training and Doctrine Command for such problems. So far, 20 soldiers have been charged, disciplined or reassigned.
Also Tuesday, the Army announced another round of sexual misconduct charges, this time at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Three non-commissioned officers will face courts martial for charges ranging from consensual sexual intercourse to indecent assault, which amounted to touching recruits. At least seven others have been suspended. Military regulations prohibit personal relationships between superiors and subordinates.
The alleged incidents of misconduct occurred at separate times between the summers of 1995-1996 and appear unrelated, officials said.
Other cases of misconduct also are under investigation, said officials at the base, where some 25,000 soldiers arrive each year to learn engineering skills. Women account for upward of 30 percent of each class of trainees.
At Aberdeen, three Army trainers - a captain and two drill sergeants - are expected to face courts martial for charges ranging from rape, sodomy and an improper relationship with female recruits at the Ordnance Center. Two others face administrative penalties.
Another 15 trainers at the base have been suspended as a result of the investigation, with sources saying that at least two more drill sergeants are expected to face courts martial.
xxxx 2,474 CALLS As of Tuesday afternoon, 2,474 calls have come into the toll-free Army hotline set up to report sexual misconduct. Of the calls, 365 were passed to investigators. The number: (800) 903-4241