‘Under the rug:’ Sexual misconduct shakes FBI’s senior ranks – Times of India

WASHINGTON: An assistant FBI director retired after he was accused of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. Another senior FBI official left after he was found to have sexually harassed eight employees.
Yet another high-ranking FBI agent retired after he was accused of blackmailing a young employee into sexual encounters.
An Associated Press investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents.
Each of the accused FBI officials appears to have avoided discipline, the AP found, and several were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions and benefits even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims against them.
Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement.
“They’re sweeping it under the rug,” said a former FBI analyst who alleges in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague’s farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it’s very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,” said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.
The AP’s count does not include the growing number of high-level FBI supervisors who have failed to report romantic relationships with subordinates in recent years — a pattern that has alarmed investigators with the Office of Inspector General and raised questions about bureau policy.
The recurring sexual misconduct has drawn the attention of Congress and advocacy groups, which have called for whistleblower protections for rank-and-file FBI employees and for an outside entity to review the bureau’s disciplinary cases.
“They need a #MeToo moment,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has been critical of the treatment of women in the male-dominated FBI.
“It’s repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol’-boy networks,” Speier said. “It doesn’t surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.”
In a statement, the FBI said it “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment” and that claims against supervisors have resulted in them being removed from their positions while cases are investigated and adjudicated.
It added that severe cases can result in criminal charges and that the FBI’s internal disciplinary process assesses, among other factors, “the credibility of the allegations, the severity of the conduct, and the rank and position of the individuals involved.” (AP)

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