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Pentagon faces another sex scandal

Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, Army basic training camp commander, is suspended over allegations of 'adultery and a physical altercation,' military officials say.

May 21, 2013|By Shashank Bengali, Washington Bureau
  • Army Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts has been suspended from his post at Ft. Jackson, S.C., while the military investigates allegations against him, including adultery.
Army Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts has been suspended from his post at Ft. Jackson,… (Kim Kim Foster-Tobin / McClatchy-Tribune )

WASHINGTON — The Army suspended the commander of its main basic training camp Tuesday for alleged adultery, the latest in a string of military officers accused of sexual misconduct.

Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, a 29-year Army veteran, was suspended from his post at Ft. Jackson, S.C., while the military investigates allegations of "adultery and a physical altercation," officials said.

"We don't have any evidence of any sexual assault. The allegations we have indicate a breach of order and discipline," said Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Eustis, Va.

Roberts, who is married with three children, previously led units in Iraq and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Adultery is a crime under military law and, if proven, could end his Army career.

Ft. Jackson, a vast facility outside Columbia, S.C., is boot camp for half of the recruits who enter the Army each year — about 36,000 soldiers — including 60% of female recruits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was notified of the case late last week, according to a senior Defense Department official.

The allegations deal another embarrassing blow to a Pentagon leadership that is struggling to show it takes sexual misconduct seriously. Statistics show a startling rise in sexual assault cases throughout the armed services.

This month, the Pentagon released figures estimating that 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in unreported incidents last year, a 35% increase from 2010.

Hagel has said the problem could undermine military effectiveness and hurt efforts to recruit and retain women. He said he had stepped up screening of recruiters and instructors and ordered commanders to be held accountable for preventing sexual assaults.

This month, the head of the Air Force sexual assault prevention branch was arrested on allegations of groping a woman he didn't know outside a bar near the Pentagon.

Days later, the Army relieved from duty the chief of the sexual harassment prevention unit for the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky., after his arrest in a domestic dispute. The Army also suspended a sergeant first class who coordinated a sexual assault prevention program at Ft. Hood, Texas, on allegations of running a small-time prostitution ring and abusing other service members.

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair is scheduled to face court-martial next month on charges of sexual misconduct, including allegations that he forced a female captain to engage in sex and threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. Sinclair, who was a deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, could face life in prison if convicted.

shashank.bengali@latimes.com

David S. Cloud in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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