A sergeant and decorated Iraq War veteran on-staff at the prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point is accused of secretly video taping female cadets in the Academy’s showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon, a staff adviser “responsible for the health, welfare, and discipline” of 125 cadets, has been charged with four counts of indecent acts, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and violations of good order and discipline. The New York Times reported that a dozen women are being contacted by the Army to discuss the breach of privacy, while McLendon has been transferred to the Fort Drum Army base in upstate New York.
The news comes at a trying time for the military. A recent Pentagon report found an estimated 26,000 personnel were sexually assaulted last year, many of them women. Of those, just over 3,000 cases were reported. Congress, led by a record number of elected women representatives and senators, is engaged in hearings that have shed light on the under reported issue, while exposing shortcomings in the military’s response and prevention systems. President Obama called on top military and defense personnel to stop the “scourge” of sexual assault during a Friday meeting at the White House, charging that it undermines the military’s effectiveness.
“Not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less effective than it can be,” Obama said Friday.
Following the meeting, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military to review and retrain personnel charged with preventing and responding to sexual assault cases.
According to The New York Times, McClendon’s role involved “assist[ing] each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of physical, military, academic and moral-ethical programs.” Approximately 15% of West Point’s student body is female.
For more on this, watch NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski’s report, below: