By SUSAN CRABTREE
The U.S. Secret Service is under scrutiny after a batch of newly released documents revealed that a special agent was accused in 2012 of using a date-rape drug to molest boys.
The revelation, stemming from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, raised questions about whether the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, which oversees it, as well as its investigative arm, took sufficient action when confronted with the allegations.
In addition to the allegations involving the special agent, a separate document obtained by the Washington Examiner referenced another employee from a different division who had also been accused of child molestation.
The new revelations come at a time when the agency is struggling to overcome scandals, including one in which agents hired prostitutes during a presidential trip to Colombia.
The Secret Service has spent years trying to repair its reputation and improve discipline, but the new revelations about child abuse prompt attorneys who specialize in federal employment law to question the agency's willingness to hold agents accountable for serious crimes.
"From a reading of what is publicly available to me, it appears that the U.S. Secret Service does not wish to be held accountable for how it treats its employees accused of serious crimes against children involving sexual misconduct and/or drugs," Cheri Cannon, a partner at federal employment law firm Tully Rinckey told the Washington Examiner.
"The Secret Service should be transparent in how it treats such persons, within the confines of federal privacy laws," she said. "Not responding at all or ignoring the situation is not responding within the bounds of federal privacy laws, but appears to be an effort to protect the agency from any allegation of a cover up of serious criminal activity."
Bracing for renewed criticism, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the union that represents the Secret Service, released a statement earlier this week saying, "the Secret Service is comprised of humans who sometimes err, but isolated mistakes do not undefine the agency's legacy of honor."
The latest child sex abuse issue goes back to the fall of 2012, when Department of Homeland Security investigators were looking into a Denver-based special agent accused of child molestation, according to one document, a "memorandum of activity" from the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). When investigators ran the agent's name through a federal database, they found that the same person had been flagged by Customs and Border Protection a year earlier for trying to send himself a date-rape drug through the mail.