I am the sister of an Army National Guard corporal, and I am generally the first to defend and support the military and the soldiers. But stories like this one make me sick, and I hope that this article is only partially true.—Freckles

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AP probe looks at recruiting misconduct

 

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National WriterSat Aug 19, 12:20 PM ET

More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government c
ars and groped en route to entrance exams.

A six-month Associated Press investigation found that more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees. The cases occurred across all branches of the military and in all regions of the country.

“This should never be allowed to happen,” said one 18-year-old victim. “The recruiter had all the power. He had the uniform. He had my future. I trusted him.”

At least 35 Army recruiters, 18 Marine Corps recruiters, 18 Navy recruiters and 12 Air Force recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees in 2005, according to records obtained by the AP under dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests. That’s significantly more than the handful of cases disclosed in the past decade.

The AP also found:

_The Army, which accounts for almost half of the military, has had 722 recruiters accused of rape and sexual misconduct since 1996.

_Across all services, one out of 200 frontline recruiters — the ones who deal directly with young people — was disciplined for sexual misconduct last year.

_Some cases of improper behavior involved romantic relationships, and sometimes those relationships were initiated by the women.

_Most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct are disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare.

_The increase in sexual misconduct incidents is consistent with overall recruiter wrongdoing, which has increased from just over 400 cases in 2004 to 630 cases in 2005, according to a General Accounting Office report released this week.

The Pentagon has committed more than $1.5 billion to recruiting efforts this year. Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke insisted that each of the services takes the issue of sexual misconduct by recruiters “very seriously and has processes in place to identify and deal with those members who act inappropriately.”

In the Army, 53 recruiters were charged with misconduct last year. Recruiting spokesman S. Douglas Smith said the Army has put much energy into training its staff to avoid these problems.

“To have 53 allegations in a year, while it is 53 more than we would want, is not indicative of the entire command of 8,000 recruiters,” he said. “We take this very seriously and we take appropriate action as necessary to discipline these people.”