An investigation by the Associated Press found at least six allegations of sexual misconduct by senior FBI officials that occurred over the past five years. In each case, the accused officials seem to have avoided any discipline, even when the claims against them were substantiated.
Several quietly retired or were transferred with full pensions and benefits. Others retained their anonymity after the disciplinary process, meaning they faced no career repercussions, even when they remained in law enforcement.
“They’re sweeping it under the rug,” one former FBI analyst told the AP. She has sued the FBI after a supervisory special agent allegedly groped her and licked her face at a 2017 workplace party. She has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and left the FBI.
The AP’s count of six allegations in five years includes two new claims brought last week. Two women claim that ranking agents sexually assaulted them. The count does not include a number of top FBI supervisors who, in recent years, have failed to report romantic relationships they had with subordinates.
The six cases identified by the AP include at least one allegation against an assistant director and others against special agents in charge of field offices. The allegations ranged from sexual advances and unwanted touching to coercion.
Of all the cases the AP identified, only one seems to have resulted in discipline — the loss of a security clearance. The alleged perpetrator in that case was a rank-and-file agent.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a lawsuit filed last week against a special agent in charge alleged that he had “imprisoned, tortured, harassed, blackmailed, stalked and manipulated” her into non-consensual sex, including a forcible rape. The accused special agent retired without any discipline.
This is not the first time similar cases have occurred at the FBI
The Office of Inspector General did an extensive review of sexual misconduct allegations covering fiscal years 2009 to 2012. It uncovered 343 “offenses,” which included three incidents in which undressed women were videotaped without their consent.
Earlier this year, a special agent in charge of a New York office was found by the Inspector General to have sexually harassed eight subordinates.
Additionally, there is a class-action suit against the FBI’s training academy in Quantico, Virginia. Seventeen women allege serious, systemic sexual harassment there.
Congress and advocacy groups are calling for rank-and-file FBI employees to have whistleblower protections and for a neutral entity to review disciplinary cases in the agency. Some see such an established pattern of sexual misconduct at the FBI that it is part of the culture there.
Is sexual harassment part of the culture at your workplace?