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West Point video allegations add to Pentagon plague of sexual misconduct cases

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An Army sergeant who served as a staff adviser for cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point has been accused of secretly videotaping female students as they showered, the latest in a string of sexual-assault or harassment cases plaguing the Department of Defense.

The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division is contacting about a dozen women who may have been filmed while in the bathroom or shower, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The soldier, identified as Sgt. First Class Michael McClendon, faces multiple charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty, and maltreatment, according to Army spokesman George Wright.

Sgt. McClendon, a veteran of two tours of Iraq, was transferred to Ft. Drum, N.Y., before charges were filed on May 14. According to The New York Times, he served as a tactical commissioned officer at West Point since 2009, where school personnel documents described his position as “responsible for the health, welfare, and discipline” for a company of roughly 125 cadets.

Time reports that McClendon, of Blakely, Ga., earned more than two-dozen awards, including a Bronze Star, and was a seven-time recipient of the Army’s Good Conduct Medal.

There are roughly 4,500 students at West Point. Women have been accepted to the prestigious military academy since 1976 and make up about 15 percent of the student body.

Army officials responded quickly after The Times reported the allegations Wednesday. “The Army is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our cadets at the Military Academy at West Point — as well as all soldiers throughout our Army,” Gen. John F. Campbell, the Army vice chief of staff, said Wednesday. “Once notified of the violation, a full investigation was launched, followed by swift action to correct the problem.”

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