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US Secret Service removes 3 agents involved in sex scandal

April 19, 2012 13:35 IST

The United States Secret Service - responsible for the protection of the President - has removed three of its personnel, who were allegedly involved in a sex scandal in Columbia.

In addition, eight others have been placed under administrative leave, the Secret Service said, as it continues with its probe into the scandal that rocked the country ever since it was brought to light last week when President Barack Obama went to Columbia to attend the Summit of the Americas.

"The Secret Service continues to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation, utilising all investigative techniques available to our agency," Secret Service Assistant Director Paul Morrissey said in a statement.

"This includes polygraph examinations, interviews with the employees involved, and witness interviews, to include interviews being conducted by our Office of Professional Responsibility in Cartagena, Colombia," Morrissey said.

"Although the Secret Service's investigation into allegations of misconduct by its employees in Cartagena, Colombia, is in its early stages, and is still ongoing, three of the individuals involved will separate or are in the process of separating from the agency," he said.

One supervisory employee was allowed to retire from the agency, another supervisory employee has been proposed for removal for cause, which requires a 30-day notice, an opportunity to respond and the right to be represented by private legal counsel, while the third non-supervisory employee has resigned.

"The remaining eight employees continue to be on administrative leave. Their security clearances remain suspended," Morrissey said.

In addition to the 11 agents, 10 military personnel were suspected of being involved in a night of carousing that included heavy drinking, visits to strip clubs and prostitutes on April 11, two nights before Obama was to arrive in the seaside town of Cartagena for an international summit, The Washington Post said.

"The Department of Defence is also conducting its own investigation. Since these allegations were first reported, the Secret Service has actively pursued this investigation, and has acted to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is effected," the Secret Service said.

"We demand that all of our employees adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards and are committed to a full review of this matter," it said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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