National Security

Multiple senior FBI officials accused of sexual harassment over last 5 years: AP

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Multiple senior FBI officials have been accused of sexual harassment but avoided disciplinary action in recent years, according to an investigation released Thursday by the Associated Press.

The AP found that at least six top FBI officials had faced allegations of sexual misconduct at the bureau over the past five years with several opting to retire or leave the bureau amid or following investigations into their misconduct.

Among them, according to the newswire, was Roger Stanton, who served as assistant FBI director at the the Insider Threat Office. The AP said he chose to retire after he was accused of groping a female subordinate in a stairwell while drunk, according to a copy of an inspector general’s report that the AP obtained. After he left the building, he proceeded to call the woman more than a dozen times on her work phone.

While Stanton disputed the woman’s account, saying he did not “intend to do anything,” he acknowledged that he was embarrassed by his actions, the AP reports. Stanton retired in 2018 after the internal watchdog’s investigation concluded that he had sexually harassed the woman.

In another case, a senior FBI official in the Albany, N.Y., office, James Hendricks, left the FBI after the Office of the Inspector General found that he had harassed eight employees, according to the AP.

And another top FBI agent reportedly retired after he faced accusations he was blackmailing a young employee into having sexual encounters with him.  A former FBI official identified only as “Jane Doe” alleges that a special agent in charge “imprisoned, tortured, harassed, blackmailed, stalked and manipulated” her into having several “non-consensual sexual encounters,” according to the report, which cites a new lawsuit that was filed Wednesday.

This agent reportedly avoided discipline, instead retiring in 2016 and opening a law firm.

The AP investigation found that the bureau, rather than discipling those who have faced such accusations, instead has opted to transfer them or allow them to retire, which allowed the accused to keep their pensions and benefits even as the allegations against them are being investigated. The process also grants anonymity after the disciplinary process concludes, giving them the option to easily transfer into the private sector or another branch of law enforcement without the accusations against them being known.

Most recently, two women this week alleged that superiors sexually assaulted them, according to the AP. 

One woman, who asked the AP to identify her only by her first name Becky, is alleging in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisor of hers, Charles Dick at the FBI training academy, not only licked her face but also sexually assaulted her at a farewell party for a colleague. 

She has also accused him in court documents of “reaching under her and simulating” penetration of her “with his fingers through her jeans.”

“They’re sweeping it under the rug,” Becky told the AP.

“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,” she added.

According to the report, Becky left the bureau after the encounter. She has also reportedly been diagnosed with PTSD.

Dick, who retired from the bureau before the watchdog investigated Becky’s internal complaint, has denied the charges against him, according to the report. Dick was also acquitted in a Virginia state court after a judge said he found it “wholly incredible” that Becky would stand there and “not say anything,” in response to Dick’s alleged actions, the AP reports, citing a transcript of the proceeding.

The newswire says these cases do not touch on the multiple cases of FBI supervisors failing to report romantic relationships with subordinates.

The FBI in a statement to the AP maintained that the bureau has a “a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment,” and that it takes into consideration “the credibility of the allegations, the severity of the conduct, and the rank and position of the individuals involved.”

In severe cases, the disciplinary process can end in criminal charges, the FBI told the newswire.

The report says that outside of the six FBI officials who have faced accusations of misconduct, only one rank-and-file agent faced discipline, losing his security clearance in light of the allegations.

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