Yet another sexual harassment scandal has been uncovered in one of our nation’s proudest military academies. A sergeant first class on staff at the United States Military Academy at West Point has, according to Army officials, been charged with allegedly filming female cadets without their consent, sometimes when they were undressing in the bathroom or shower, because nothing helps cadets learn the vital importance of military surveillance better than a lascivious superior officer betraying their trust. Moving right along!
The New York Times reports that allegations against Sgt. First Class Michael McClendon come at a particularly inconvenient time for the military, as pretty much every one of its branches has come under scrutiny for mishandling instances of sexual harassment and assault. The Army has so far contacted over a dozen women, alerting them to the possibility that their privacy may have been violated and offering them counseling.
Meanwhile, Sergeant McClendon (who is not currently in custody because he did not commit a violent crime) faces charges under not one, not two, not three, but FOUR articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and actions prejudicial to good order and discipline. McClendon had been with the school since 2009, and was shuttled away to Fort Drum, NY before charges were filed against on May 14. But what would this story be without a cruel ironic twist about McClendon’s role at West Point? The Times explains further,
During his tenure at West Point, Sergeant McClendon served as a tactical noncommissioned officer, a position described in academy personnel documents as a staff adviser “responsible for the health, welfare and discipline” of a company of 125 cadets. The person in the position is expected to “assist each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of physical, military, academic and moral-ethical programs.”
Army officials have been quick to offer all the correct PR statements about protecting the safety of cadets and ensuring that apparent creepy creeps like McClendon answer for their transgressions, but the pattern of sexual harassment and assault against women in the military begs for a dramatic, across-the-board overhaul of the way the military handles such allegations.
Sergeant Accused of Secretly Filming Cadets [NY Times]
Image via AP, Philip Kamrass