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Sergeant sentenced in taping of female cadets

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — An Army sergeant who had been accused of secretly photographing and videotaping at least a dozen women at the US Military Academy at West Point has pleaded guilty in a court-martial, officials said Friday.

Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday that includes a 33-month sentence, loss of pay, a reduction in rank to private, and a bad conduct discharge, according to officials at Fort Drum in northern New York.

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McClendon was a combat engineer who joined the military in 1990. He was assigned in 2009 to the support staff at West Point, where he worked with cadets.

He was charged last year with dereliction of duty, mistreatment, entering a women’s bathroom without notice, and taking and possessing inappropriate photos and videos of women who were naked or in various states of undress. He was then transferred to Fort Drum.

A statement released by Fort Drum said McClendon pleaded guilty to one charge including eight specifications involving indecent acts. A call seeking more information on details of McClendon’s plea wasn’t immediately returned Friday.

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In exchange for the plea, the duration of McClendon’s confinement was reduced from 5 years to 33 months.

McClendon originally faced charges of violating four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with some allegations dating to 2009, the military said.

The charges came amid increased concern about the handling of sexual misconduct in the military and the lack of confidence, particularly among women serving, that justice is being done. A Pentagon report estimated up to 26,000 service members may have been sexually assaulted in 2012.

On Thursday, the Senate agreed with the Pentagon to leave the authority to prosecute charges of rape and other serious crimes with military commanders.

The 55-45 vote to relieve commanders of that authority was short of the 60 needed to move ahead on the legislation.

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