A new accusation against a member of the Military will only put more pressure for the institution to deal with an increasingly large problem of sexual violence. Sergeant 1st Class Michael McClendon, a member of the staff at the United State Military Academy at West Point, has been accused of videotaping female cadets without their consent.
This is the latest incident in a string of high profile incidents involving sexual harassment and assault that have rocked the Military, and drawn rebukes from both the public and lawmakers in Congress. As the Military attempts to come to grips with the problem, the high profile incidents are only bringing more attention to the scope of sexual harassment and assault problem that grips the entire institution.
McClendon joined the Army in 1990 and received training as a combat engineer. He deployed twice to Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2007-2009 and earned the Bronze Star. He was assigned to West Point in 2009.
McClendon is accused of videotaping female cadets secretly without their consent. He videotaped in the showers or the bathrooms along with one other place on campus. According to documents from the case, McClendon entered women's restrooms and bathing facilities without knocking or making himself known.
An estimated 19,000 members of the armed services were victims of some form of sexual assault in 2010, according to the Department of Defense. In addition to the shocking amount of incidents that have occurred, several other high profile incidents have put the spotlight on this problem.
Earlier in May, an Army Sergeant 1st Class at the Fort Hood — Texas — base was relived of duty after accusations from three women surfaced. The charges involved abusive sexual contact, assault, and maltreatment of subordinates. Ironically, he served on the base as an equal opportunity advisor and coordinator in the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program for the Army's 3rd Corps headquarters.
Perhaps, the most high profile incident was the arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Krusinski of the Air Force. Earlier in May, Krusinski was arrested for sexual battery. He is accused of approaching a woman in a parking lot and groping her. Krusinski was the chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.
As the Military has wheeled from these incidents, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has vowed to stamp out the problem before it grows any worse. In May, Hagel ordered the armed services to immediately "re-train, re-credential, and re-screen" all military recruiters and sexual-assault prevention officers.
The military recruiter part of that directive comes from news that military recruiters have been committing sexual harassment and assault against civilians. In one case described as the worst of the worst, a Texas military court will convene to hear charges against an Air Force recruiter that involve rape, forcible sodomy, and other crimes he committed against 18 women over a three-year period.
In another case involving a recruiter, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Howard, 33, was convicted of first-degree sexual assault and adultery in the rape of a 23-year-old woman in Alaska. He was given a dishonorable discharge but no jail time. Civilian law authorities were stunned at the result.
There are no exact figures to the amount of sexual violence committed by recruiters against civilians because the armed forces do not keep track of such data.
Sadly, this latest incident of sexual harassment is only the most recent in a long line of terrible incidents that have plagued the Military. Although Defense Secretary Hagel has promised to stamp out the problem, time will tell if the Military can win this war.