National News

November 15, 2013

Secret Service facing another sex scandal

WASHINGTON — More than 18 months after a prostitution scandal in South America rocked the Secret Service, the agency in charge of protecting the president is investigating another case of suspected sexual misconduct in its ranks.

This time, two supervisory agents assigned to President Barack Obama’s protective detail have been investigated for misconduct involving sexually suggestive emails sent to a female subordinate. The alleged misconduct does not appear to involve a breach of Obama’s security.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the inquiry Wednesday, supervisor Ignacio Zamora Jr. was reassigned. Timothy Barraclough, also a supervisor, remains with the presidential protection division.

The agency started investigating Zamora this spring after hotel staff at the upscale Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington notified the Secret Service that a bullet from Zamora’s weapon was found in a hotel room, a federal law enforcement official said. The woman in the room identified Zamora as the agent who left the bullet, the official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation.

A subsequent internal investigation uncovered the emails from Zamora and Barraclough, the official said.

The Secret Service said Thursday that the agency investigates all allegations of misconduct and takes action when appropriate. The agency said neither agent would comment on the case.

News of the latest probe involving sexual misconduct prompted Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to press acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers about an internal report on the agency’s culture during a hearing Thursday.

Beers, who was testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on an unrelated topic, said he was expecting the report to be ready shortly.

In the wake of the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, eight Secret Service employees were forced out of the agency, three were cleared of serious misconduct and at least two have been fighting to get their jobs back.

Then Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the scandal during a congressional hearing and promptly issued a variety of rule changes, including barring agents and officers from bringing foreign nationals back to their hotel rooms and requiring that agents not drink alcohol within 10 hours of the start of a shift.

Sullivan retired earlier this year, and Obama named career agent Julia Pierson as the first woman to head the elite agency, signaling a desire to change the culture of the service.

 

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