Pentagon suspends 60 military members after sex-assault review

10:14 PM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for a Pentagon-wide review. (Photo: Monica A. King, AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Dozens of people in the military are out of a job tonight, not because of budget cuts, but because of a sex assault review, and that may even include a Sergeant who was supposed to educate troops about sex abuse but instead is accused of running prostitution ring at Fort Hood.

Sexual assault in the military has been called a crisis, and a Department of Defense report dropped a bomb back in May, estimating that of all the men and women who fight for our freedom, 26,000 had been sexually assaulted in the year 2012.

Today, USA Today military reporter Tom Vanden Brook broke the story that the Pentagon is suspending and firing troops. He says,"That 26,000 figure refers to unwanted sexual touching, so it can mean anything from groping to full-out rape."

The crimes are unthinkable. Those numbers are staggering. 

The response: 60 troops out of their jobs, is a long time coming, according to Brian Lewis of Baltimore, who started his military career in the Navy, "In August of 2000, I was assaulted by a superior in Guam and I was discharged a year later with a personality disorder." 

Lewis says the assault changed the course of his life, "The crime made it very hard to trust people once again." 

Lewis says the 60 suspensions and firings are a start. It was back in May when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanded the military review records of recruiters and sex assault counselors.

Vanden Brook explains, "They still have a number of cases they're looking at, they don't know how many, so these numbers could well get much higher."

Vanden Brook breaks down the numbers: the services are re-screening 35,000 troops from all branches against a public database to criminal records for sex assault, child abuse and alcohol-related offenses. The Army suspended 55. The Navy suspended, 5. The Air Force and Marines made no suspensions. 

To Lewis, that's a small number compared to 26,000, "That's what we really need to remember, is that in each of these 26,000 cases we're dealing with crime victims, 26,000 separate crimes are taking place in our military every year."

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