Shalikashvili: Army Looking To See If Sex Abuse Widespread
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nearly 2,000 calls, hundreds considered worth investigation, have poured into an Army hotline set up after revelation of the sex scandal at a Maryland training center, the Army said Monday.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Army was ``casting its net very wide″ to find problems elsewhere.
A separate investigation is looking into allegations of sexual misconduct, ranging from rape to fraternization, among supervisors at an Army training base in Missouri, but no charges have been filed, Army sources said.
Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili, making the rounds of television talk shows in honor of Veterans Day, was asked whether he had any evidence sexual abuse was occurring at other training sites.
``We certainly have to assume that it could be happening somewhere else, and that’s why the Army is casting its net very wide all across the Army, and certainly all training centers, to get to the bottom of this,″ the four-star Army general said on CBS’ ``This Morning.″
``But right now, I don’t think we have all the evidence, or it’s very difficult to determine just how big that problem really is,″ he added.
Some 1,999 phone calls had been made to a toll-free hotline set up at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, near Baltimore.
Ed Starnes, an Aberdeen spokesman, said calls have been constantly coming in from across the country since the scandal broke last week.
``As soon as you are off, another rings,″ he said Monday, adding that some complaints go back to World War II.
Of the calls received between Thursday and 4 p.m. Monday, 246 were deemed serious enough to be referred to the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division for further inquiry. The rest needed no follow-up, officials said.
Of the calls pertaining to sexual complaints, 56 were Aberdeen-related and 89 stemmed from complaints about other Army facilities.
The rest of the calls had to do with administrative requests, complaints concerning nonsexual matters and crank calls. The Army refused to provide details about the complaints that were being referred for investigation.
The Army has filed criminal charges against three military trainers and administrative charges against two more _ all married _ at the Ordnance Center in Aberdeen. The men, four drill instructors and a captain, were suspended along with 15 other instructors, who were placed on paid administrative duty.
The men facing charges, ranging from rape to sending improper love letters to trainees, were accused of harassing at least a dozen women in their first weeks of training. The average age of the women was 21.
One instructor threatened to kill three trainees if they told superiors he was having sex with them, the Army said in documents released over the weekend.
``It’s a great, great tragedy and our task now is to ensure that we find out exactly just how widespread it is and bring to justice all those who should be brought to justice,″ Shalikashvili said on ABC’s ``Good Morning America.″
At Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on ongoing investigation is looking into several allegations of sexual misconduct, from rape to fraternization, a senior Army official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
No charges have been filed in connection with the allegations involving supervisors at the base, one of the Army’s major training sites.
The official said the Missouri investigation had been going on since September and was not started because of similar allegations emerging from Aberdeen. ``There’s no connection between the two,″ he said.
Given statements by Shalikashvili and top Army officials that the service was going to investigate the extent of such matters, the Army officer said he expected inquiries to be conducted at other training bases, such as those at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Knox, Ky.
Army investigators at Aberdeen have said they plan to interview as many as 1,000 women who were trained at the post since the beginning of 1995, a process that could take months.