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U.S. reveals accusations against Secret Service

Jun. 15, 2012 - 01:47PM   |  
By PETER EISLER and AAMER MADHANI, USA TODAY   |   Comments
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan listens during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill on May 23.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan listens during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill on May 23. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via GettyImages)

Secret Service agents had been accused of sexual assault, partying with underage girls and other misconduct before the prostitution scandal in Colombia rocked the agency this year, according to documents released to news organizations this week by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.

The list of accusations against agency officials, which was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, runs 229 pages long and is heavily censored, and it’s unclear whether any of the allegations were confirmed to be true. The complaints date back to 2003.

USA Today requested details of misconduct accusations against Secret Service agents after the agency became embroiled in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Columbia, in April that led to a dozen agents being either forced out or disciplined by the elite agency. The agents were part of an advance team sent to Colombia before President Obama traveled there for a summit.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month that he did not believe the incident in Cartagena reflected a larger pattern of misconduct. Instead, he said, the agents involved “did some really dumb things” and “made very bad decisions.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., the panel chairman, and ranking Republican member Susan Collins of Maine assessed the situation, and both came away concerned that Sullivan, whom they support, has blinders on when it comes to the culture of his agency.

Among the incidents reported in the documents released by the inspector general this week:

• Last August, the agency reported a complaint of sexual assault by a special agent on an out-of-town trip. The alleged victim was another employee who “reluctantly reported it to an administrative person.”

• Last month, a county sheriff in an undisclosed location stopped a special agent after he left a “gentlemen’s club.” The police were summoned after the agent lifted his shirt to display his weapon and badge and told the manager of the club that the establishment was “violating federal law by charging 40 for a lap dance and 25 for a tableside dance.”

• In April, a former Secret Service agent alleged that more than five agents were sent home from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City after police were called to their hotel rooms and found them partying with underage girls. Sullivan told the Senate Homeland Security Committee last month that the agency disciplined the employees at the time.

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