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Army transfers soldier accused of filming female cadets to Fort Drum

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FORT DRUM — An Army sergeant accused of filming female West Point cadets in the shower was moved to the post in the past week for legal proceedings.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon, assigned to the school since 2009, had the charges officially filed against him May 14.

Maj. Josh Jacques, deputy spokesman for the post’s 10th Mountain Division, confirmed Sgt. McClendon was on the post since a few days before the charges were filed and he would remain as his legal proceedings continue.

The Army said Wednesday that Sgt. McClendon, from Blakely, Ga., is facing charges of dereliction of duty, mistreatment, entering a women’s bathroom without notice and taking and possessing inappropriate photos and videos of women who were naked or in various states of undress.

Army officials have notified the women about the matter.

The charges detail he took videos of various women’s body parts without their consent. Officials said the videos have been recovered.

According to the Army, Sgt. McClendon was relieved of his duties May 17, 2012, was ordered to have no contact with cadets and was barred from entering cadet areas on the post. The yearlong delay in formally charging him was because of the complexities of the case and the effort to recover the forensic evidence.

The New York Times, which first reported the allegations, wrote Sgt. McClendon was a tactical noncommissioned officer who was responsible for the health and welfare of a company of about 125 cadets. About 700 of the approximately 4,500 cadets who attend the academy are female.

The case is the latest in a series of arrests and incidents of sexual misconduct across the military and comes on the heels of a Pentagon report that estimated as many as 26,000 service members may have been sexually assaulted last year.

“The Army is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our Cadets at the Military Academy at West Point — as well as all soldiers throughout our Army,” said Gen. John Campbell, vice chief of staff of the Army, in a statement. “Once notified of the violation, a full investigation was launched, followed by swift action to correct the problem. Our cadets must be confident that issues such as these are handled quickly and decisively, and that our system will hold those responsible accountable.”

Army spokesman George Wright said throughout the notification process, the Army will protect the privacy of the people involved as well as offer support services as required.

In recent weeks, military leaders have expressed anger and shame over their failure to stem the escalating sexual abuse across the services. In a meeting last week with defense and military officials, President Barack Obama asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to lead a process to root out the problem.

Calling it a crisis, Mr. Dempsey said the women who serve in the military are losing confidence the problem can be solved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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