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Army suspends drill sergeants at Fort Benning amid allegation of sexual assault

The US Army has sidelined numerous drill sergeants at its training center at Fort Benning, Ga., amid allegations of sexual assault against at least one trainee, the service announced Wednesday.

The cases are under investigation by Army Criminal Investigation Command and the service’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, Army officials said. The investigation began after a female trainee accused a drill sergeant of sexual assault, then expanded after that allegation revealed indications of additional allegations of sexual misconduct involving trainees and drill sergeants, the Army said in a statement. It declined to say how many drill sergeants are now under investigation.

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‘‘We take these allegations very seriously, and we will ensure a full and thorough investigation of the facts,’’ the statement said. ‘‘Our initial actions are to ensure the safety and welfare of all of our soldiers. The drill sergeants have been suspended from drill sergeant duties and will have no contact with trainees during the course of the investigation.’’ Army officials declined to release additional information.

The case marks the latest black mark against drill sergeants or drill instructors in the US military, where trainees have little power as they transition into service life.

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Most recently, the Marine Corps has faced allegations of hazing and abuse at the service’s boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

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