An Army sergeant who has been accused of secretly videotaping and photographing at least a dozen women at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has entered a guilty plea in court-martial, officials said Friday.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael MClendon agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday that includes a 33-month sentence, a bad-conduct discharge, loss of pay, and a reduction in rank to private, according to officials at Fort Drum in northern New York.
Before becoming an Army sergeant, McClendon was a combat engineer who first began his stint in the military in 1990. He was assigned in 2009 to support the staff at West Point, where he received the opportunity to work with cadets.
The disdained Army sergeant 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 per ABC news. He was then transferred over to Fort Drum.
A statement released by Fort Drum said McClendon pleaded guilty to one charge including eight specifications of indecent acts. In exchange for the plea, McClendon received a reduced sentence from 5 years to 33 months.
When he was first charged in May, McClendon violated four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with some allegations dating back to 2009, the military said.
The charges came during increased concern about the handling of sexual misconduct in the military and the confidence, particularly among females serving, that justice would be served. The Pentagon report estimated that as many as 26,000 military personnel may have been sexually assaulted in 2012.
On Thursday, the Senate agreed with the Pentagon to leave the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses with military commanders.
The vote of 55-45 in favor of stripping commanders of that authority was ultimately short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the legislation by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand New York.