US reveals accusations against Secret Service
WASHINGTON—Secret Service agents and officers have been accused of involvement with prostitutes, leaking sensitive information, publishing pornography, sexual assault, illegal wiretaps, improper use of weapons and drunken behavior, according to internal government reports reviewed by The Associated Press on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the accusations turned out to be true.
The new disclosures of so many serious accusations since 2004 lend weight to concerns expressed by Congress that the Secret Service prostitution scandal in April in Colombia exposed a culture of misconduct within the agency. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the incident during a hearing in May but insisted that what happened in Colombia was an isolated case.
A leading senator who has been investigating the Colombia scandal, Susan Collins, R-Maine, said some of the accusations appeared legitimate and that "adds to my concern about apparent misconduct by some of the personnel of this vital law enforcement agency."
"The key question is whether these incidents indicate a larger cultural problem," Collins said Friday.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said Friday an investigation by the Secret Service's inspector general is continuing and the public should withhold judgment until that review is complete.
The heavily censored list, which runs 229 pages, was quietly released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to The Associated Press and other news organizations following the prostitution scandal. It describes accusations filed against Secret Service employees with the Homeland Security Department's inspector general.
Some of the accusations occurred as recently as last month. In many cases, the government noted that some of the claims were resolved administratively, and others were being formally investigated.
The complaints included an alleged sexual assault reported in August 2011. In the heavily censored entry, an employee was accused of pushing a woman who also worked for the agency onto a bed during a work trip. The employee "got on top of (censored) attempting to have sex," even though the woman "told (censored) `no' several times." The entry noted that supervisors described the accused as "a conscientious and dependable employee." The incident was closed with an "administrative disposition" in February.
They also included an anonymous complaint in October 2003 that a Secret Service agent "may have been involved with a prostitution ring," noting that two telephone numbers belonging to the agent, whose name was censored and who has since retired, turned up as part of an FBI investigation into a prostitution ring. In addition, in 2005, an employee was reported to the Washington field office for being arrested on a charge of solicitation in a park. Documents do not reveal the outcome of that case.
In 2008, an on-duty uniform division officer was arrested in a Washington prostitution sting. The officer, who was driving a marked Secret Service vehicle at the time, was placed on administrative leave, the records show. Sullivan said during the May hearing that the officer was later fired.
Other allegations include:
--October 2011: An employee was accused of sending harassing messages to a woman who interpreted them to be sexual harassment.
--March 2011: A complaint was filed involving embezzlement or theft of public money. Nearly the entire entry was censored save for a notation that it was adjudicated by a judge.
--October 2010: An employee was implicated in a national security leak. The details were censored, and the records didn't include a disposition of the case.
--May 2012: An employee was accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. No details were provided, other than that the case was closed administratively.
--May 2012: An officer was videotaped, twice, wandering nude around an apartment complex.
--January 2011: Police in New York arrested an investigative support assistant on charges sexual abuse. The records do not list an outcome for the case.
--2005: An armed agent was accused of threatening to shut down a strip club because it was charging $40 for lap dances and $25 for table-side dances, which the agent said was against federal law. The incident was reported in May 2012.
Some of the allegations were obviously spurious, such as a complaint in August 2010 that a Secret Service agent had performed experiments and implanted stimulators in a citizen's brain. The list also included dozens of complaints about fraudulent emails that circulate widely on the Internet and appear to come from the Secret Service.
A dozen Secret Service officers, agents and supervisors were implicated in the Colombia scandal and eight have been forced out of the agency. At least two employees are fighting to get their jobs back.
Associated Press Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.
Follow Alicia A. Caldwell at http://www.twitter.com/acaldwellap