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Drill sergeants suspended in Army sex assault investigation

By Russ Bynum Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Commanders at an Army post in Georgia have suspended “multiple” drill sergeants as the military investigates allegations that trainees were victims of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct, an Army spokesman said Wednesday.

Army investigators were notified immediately after a female trainee at Fort Benning accused a drill sergeant of sexual assault, post spokesman Ben Garrett said. That complaint led to investigators uncovering more allegations of “sexual misconduct” between drill sergeants and trainees, according to a Fort Benning news release.

“There are multiple drill sergeants that are involved in the investigation,” Garrett said. Asked specifically how many had been suspended, he said: “We’re not releasing that because it is part of the ongoing investigation.”

Located in Columbus near the Georgia-Alabama state line, Fort Benning is a sprawling post that conducts soldiers’ basic training. It’s also home to the Army’s infantry and armor schools, as well as the infamously grueling Army Ranger school.

More than 11,000 soldiers are stationed full-time at Fort Benning, plus a weekly average of roughly 17,000 trainees.

Garrett said no one had been charged in the case as of Wednesday.

Fort Benning has offered counseling, legal and medical services to all trainees involved in the case, the post’s news release said. The number of trainees involved was also not released. Garrett said he did not know if all of them were female.

In May, the Pentagon reported there were 6,172 reports of sexual assault filed across all military service branches in 2016, compared to 6,083 the previous year.

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