Speier Calls Congress 'Enablers of Sexual Assault'

Image credit: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Lawmakers came down hard today on military leaders, the morning after allegations emerged of another head of a military sexual assault prevention program engaging in the very behavior he was charged with stopping.

Late Tuesday the Army announced that the coordinator of a sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood, Texas, is under investigation "for pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates." He has been suspended from all duties while his case is investigated by the Army's Criminal Investigative Command.

That report came a week after the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was arrested for the alleged sexual battery of a woman in a parking lot near the Pentagon.

"Another sex scandal rocks the military," Rep. Jackie Speier said Wednesday. "Is Congress really going to stand by and let the military handle this? "Congress has been an enabler of sexual assault by not demanding that these cases be taken out of the chain of command."

Rep. Speier has a bill pending in Congress that would do precisely that, called the STOP Act. Staff for Speier said the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating threats against the congresswoman.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said these reports were evidence of "a disgraceful culture of abuse" within the armed services.

"Reports of a soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, assigned to prevent and report sexual assaults, being accused of serious sexual misconduct, abuse, and maltreatment of soldiers is reprehensible," Sen. Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement released Wednesday. "Next week, the Army will be before my subcommittee and they will face tough questions about these accusations."

Other lawmakers on Twitter called the Fort Hood scandal " unacceptable," " horrific" and " v[ery] disturbing."

Tuesday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that all of the military's sexual assault prevention coordinators and military recruiters to be retrained, re-credentialed and rescreened.