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64 Complaints Against “Hooker Hunting” US Secret Service Agents; Colombia Scandal Not Isolated

WASHINGTON – The U.S. lawmaker leading an inquiry into the Secret Service prostitution scandal reported dozens of “troubling” episodes of past misbehaviour Wednesday as investigators try to determine whether a culture of misconduct took root in the storied agency tasked with protecting the president.

“We can only know what the records of the Secret Service reveal,” Sen. Joe Lieberman said in opening the first Senate hearing into the matter. And those records, however incomplete, show 64 instances of allegations or complaints of sexual misconduct made against Secret Service employees in the last five years, he said.

The Secret Service is also tasked with protecting those close to the presidency.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, speaking to the inquiry, apologized for the behaviour of the employees in Colombia where the scandal began. But his assertion that the agency has a “zero tolerance” policy on such conduct did not convince the lawmakers, who brought more allegations to light.

Lieberman cited three complaints of inappropriate relationships with a foreign national and one of “non-consensual intercourse,” which he did not elaborate on. Sullivan said that complaint was investigated by outside law enforcement officers who decided not to prosecute.

Sullivan also told the committee an agent was fired in a 2008 Washington prostitution episode, after trying to hire an uncover police officer.

Many of the other complaints cited by Lieberman involved agency employees sending sexually suggestive emails.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins told the hearing several small groups of Secret Service employees separately visited clubs, bars and brothels in Colombia prior to a visit by President Barack Obama last month and engaged in reckless, “morally repugnant” behaviour.

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