Soldier: Sex-assault rep's prostitution case has harmed prevention efforts
By ESTHER ROBARDS-FORBES | Austin American-Statesman | Published: June 5, 2014
KILLEEN, Texas — An Army sexual assault prevention specialist told a military court at Fort Hood on Wednesday that efforts to prevent sexual assaults and increase reporting of such crimes were damaged by allegations that a noncommissioned officer sexually assaulted a young soldier and recruited other young women into a prostitution ring.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen is charged with pandering, conspiracy, maltreatment of a subordinate, abusive sexual contact, adultery and detrimental conduct.
Wednesday’s testimony came on the last day of McQueen’s Article 32 hearing, the military court equivalent of a grand jury proceeding, in which evidence is presented to determine whether a case will go to trial.
The case focused national attention on sexual misconduct in the military.
McQueen, who served as a SHARP, or Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, program representative for his battalion at Fort Hood, was accused by prosecutors of using his position within the program to avoid suspicion.
The investigating officer, Lt. Col. James Varley, is expected to make a recommendation to Brig. Gen. Clark Lemasters about whether the case should proceed to a full court-martial.
In testimony Wednesday, Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Dice, a SHARP representative in the same battalion, told the court that she had worked with McQueen and that his alleged misconduct has damaged the credibility of the program.
SHARP representatives are supposed to be a safe person to whom soldiers can report sexual assaults or sexual harassment, she said, in line with medical personnel, chaplains and military police.
“It’s very important that you build that trust,” Dice said. “If that trust is broken, the program is broken.”
Dice said that since the allegations against McQueen came to light, morale among SHARP representatives has suffered. Based on surveys and conversations with soldiers, Dice concluded there is a lack of trust in leadership. Also, soldiers are afraid to come forward with their reports, she said.
“This particular incident completely destroyed confidence in the program,” Dice said.
Since the accusations against McQueen, background checks were conducted on all SHARP representatives on post, she said. Half did not meet standards because of previous misconduct, including charges of domestic violence, driving under the influence or traffic violations.
Dice called the re-vetting process a good thing. “It’s something that should have been done in the first place.”
The charges against McQueen were part of a larger investigation.
Sgt. 1st Class Brad Grimes was court-martialed in December and was found guilty of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicitation to commit adultery. Prosecutors said McQueen connected Grimes with a young private who he met at a Killeen hotel and paid for sex.
Grimes, who was demoted from master sergeant and received a letter of reprimand, testified Wednesday that he did meet the woman at the hotel but said they never had sex and he didn’t pay her.