FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — An Army officer admitted to a military tribunal Wednesday that he betrayed his role at Fort Hood as an advocate for victims of sexual abuse by organizing a prostitution ring at the sprawling Central Texas base.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen under questioning by a military judge explained how he recruited three cash-strapped female soldiers to join the ring. One was told she could make plenty of money at “swinger parties, stripper parties,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.
He admitted to Judge Lt. Col. Rebecca Connally that he also betrayed the trust of commanders who appointed him as a victim advocate at the base north of Austin that covers about 170 square miles and is home to more than 40,000 soldiers. “I was fully aware I violated those duties,” said McQueen, who’s a noncommissioned officer.
He pleaded guilty to 15 counts as his court-martial began Wednesday, including charges of pandering and conspiracy to solicit prostitution. As part of his plea arrangement, other charges were dismissed, but McQueen still faces one count of assault that may be considered by the court later.
One of the female soldiers had previously testified that McQueen arranged for her to have sex for $100 with an officer, Master Sgt. Brad Grimes. But prosecutors have said while there were plans for a tryst, the two never engaged in sex. Fort Hood officials haven’t indicated whether anyone involved in the conspiracy actually had sex, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The woman had told investigators she was 20 when she confided in McQueen about money problems after her husband left her and her 3-year-old son and drained the couple’s bank account.
She also testified that McQueen had sex with her and took photos of her naked to show potential clients.
Grimes has already been demoted and reprimanded for conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicitation to commit adultery. Initial charges were filed against McQueen in March 2014.
McQueen was an officer in Fort Hood’s sexual assault prevention program and counseled victims of abuse. It’s not clear how long he worked with the program.
He faces a maximum penalty of more than 40 years in prison.
The case has brought renewed focus on the prevalence of sexual assault in the military. The U.S. Senate last year blocked a bill that would have stripped military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses.
Instructors, recruits and others have been prosecuted in a series of sex-abuse cases at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. A Pentagon study released last May on sex assault in the military found that more than 5,000 reports of sexual abuse had been filed in the previous fiscal year, a 50 percent increase from the previous 12 months.