Reprimands but no charges for military in prostitution scandal
A general view of the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, April 15, 2012. / Getty
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Seven Army soldiers and two Marines are receiving administrative punishments, but are not facing criminal charges, for their part in the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia this year, the military said Wednesday.
U.S. officials said that one Air Force member has been reprimanded, and final decisions were pending on two Navy sailors.
U.S. Southern Command, headed by Gen. Douglas Fraser, conducted the investigation into the military members' involvement in the April incident, which brought shame to the elite presidential protection force and unearthed revelations of other episodes of misconduct within the Secret Service.
"Of the 12 servicemembers involved, nine have been served with Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP)," U.S. Southern Command said in a statement. "Of the nine served with NJP, three have exercised their right to request a court martial."
CBS News has learned that the three who requested a court martial are all Army soldiers.
The military service members, all enlisted personnel, were assigned to support the Secret Service in preparations for a visit to the coastal resort of Cartagena by President Barack Obama. All of the military had behind-the-scenes roles and were not directly involved in presidential security.
Military officials were expected to brief Congress members on the matter.
A dozen Secret Service officers, agents and supervisors were implicated in the Colombia scandal. Eight have been forced out of the agency, three were cleared of serious misconduct and at least two employees are fighting to get their jobs back.
The misconduct became public after a dispute over payment between a Secret Service agent and a prostitute at a Cartagena hotel on April 12. The Secret Service was in Cartagena for a Latin American summit before Obama's arrival.
All the alleged activities took place before Obama arrived in Cartagena for meetings with 33 other regional leaders, but the scandal overshadowed his visit.
In the military, nonjudicial or administrative punishments can take a wide variety of forms, from docking service members' pay or confining them to quarters to assigning them additional duties for a certain length of time. In some cases, administrative punishments can be career-ending, or delay or prevent promotions.
Written reprimands often are letters placed in service member's files and would suggest a less serious offense. Initial reports suggested that some of the military members violated their curfew, but no other details were released.
Defense officials have said that Fraser was chosen to handle the investigation and hand out the punishments because the incident happened in his command area and that it would ensure that the discipline was equal across the services.
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