Secret Service agents placed on leave amid prostitution allegations, inquiry

Eleven Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave Saturday as agency officials investigated allegations they were involved with prostitutes while on assignment in Colombia.

The agents involved were in Cartagena, Colombia ahead of President Obama’s visit there this weekend, where he is attending the Summit of the Americas. 

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The agents implicated in the alleged prostitution scandal were sent back home.

Secret Service Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey said they were interviewed in Washington, D.C. on Saturday and placed on administrative leave.

“This is standard procedure and allows us the opportunity to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation into the allegations,” Morrissey said, in a statement.

“The Secret Service demands more from its employees and these expectations are met and exceeded every day by the vast majority of our workforce. This incident is not reflective of the behavior of our personnel as they travel every day throughout the country and the world performing their duties in a dedicated, professional manner.”

The Secret Service has not acknowledged the nature of the alleged misconduct, but the Washington Post, which first reported the story, said that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the agency was aware of accusations that at least one agent was involved with prostitutes at their hotel in Colombia.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama was made aware of the incident on Friday, according to reports.

Five U.S. servicemembers may also be involved with the incident, the Defense Department said Saturday.

The five troops have been confined to their quarters in Colombia, and are under orders not to have contact with anyone, the Pentagon said. They have violated their curfew and “may have been involved in inappropriate conduct.”

“The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the same hotel where the recalled United States Secret Service agents were staying,” the Defense Department said. U.S. Southern Command Commander Gen. Douglas Fraser announced the military’s involvement and said he was "disappointed by the entire incident and that this behavior is not in keeping with the professional standards expected of members of the United States military.”

The Secret Service said Saturday that a new team of agents had been put in place to assist in the president’s protection and that at no time was his security compromised.

Obama is attending the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, along with 30 other heads of state from the Western Hemisphere.

This story was first posted at 7:07 p.m. and has been updated.

- Meghashyam Mali contributed



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