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U.S. Army disqualifies 588 soldiers from 'positions of trust'

Feb. 27, 2014 at 7:53 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army disqualified 588 soldiers, including sex assault counselors, from positions of trust for infractions that included sexual assault, officials said.

In May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military to screen sexual assault counselors to check for those who shouldn't have a position of trust due to unethical or criminal behavior.

During its initial, quick screening in August, the Army disqualified 55 soldiers. ABC News reported Wednesday the additional disqualifications came after the Army reviewed 20,000 what it called positions of trust among its sexual assault response coordinators, recruiters and drill instructors.

Hagel's order was prompted by several high-profile sexual assault incidents involving service members assigned to help sexual assault victims.

Hagel "has been exceedingly clear about the need to continue stamping out sexual assault from our ranks. That's why he directed each service last May to conduct a thorough review of people in positions of trust," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said.

The Navy, Air Force and Marines also conducted the screening. The number of service members disqualified by the Air Force and Navy was in the low single digits. The Marine Corps didn't disqualify anyone.

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