Fort Benning drill sergeants suspended amid sexual assault allegations
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Army has suspended multiple Fort Benning drill sergeants as it investigates allegations of sexual assault raised by a female trainee, officials at the Georgia installation said Wednesday.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command and the Maneuver Center of Excellence, which oversees recruit, infantry and armor training at Fort Benning, are investigating the allegations, said Ben Garrett, a spokesman for the Army post. The inquiry began after one female trainee alleged that a drill instructor sexually assaulted her, but a preliminary investigation revealed indications of additional “sexual misconduct” involving drill sergeants and trainees, according to a Fort Benning statement.
“We take these allegations very seriously, and we will ensure a full and thorough investigation of the facts,” the statement read. “The drill sergeants have been suspended from drill sergeant duties, and will have no contact with trainees during the course of the investigation.”
It is not clear how many instructors have been suspended or how many women raised assault or other allegations. Garrett said he could not provide more information, including which unit or training program the trainees or instructors were assigned to.
The allegations come just months after the first women graduated from infantry training at Fort Benning. The Army last year opened the infantry and armor schools to female trainees. The first group graduated infantry One Station Unit Training in May.
It is not the first time female Army recruits have raised allegations of sexual assault by a drill instructor. In 2014, a Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant was convicted of sexually assaulting several female trainees at the Missouri Army post.
“There is no place for sexual harassment or sexual assault in our Army,” the Fort Benning statement released Wednesday said. “Our Army remains committed to maintaining a values-based climate, intolerant of these acts, and to respond appropriately when accusations are made.”