The Case Against Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon

You might have already heard about Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon. If not, then what you need to know is that he served, until very recently, as a training officer at West Point. He is accused of secretly recording or taking pictures of female cadets in various states of undress. When the allegations surfaced, McClendon was transferred to Fort Drum. The case is getting a lot of attention right now as politicians are in the midst of raging against sexual abuse in the military.

What no one seems to be asking is whether or not McClendon is actually guilty. Yes, there are pictures and videotapes. How do we know that they were not taken with the permission of the cadets? We live in an age when young women allow men to take naked pictures of them all the time. Is it possible that’s what happened here? Is it possible that the women are now only claiming to not have consented to avoid reprimands?

The truth is that we don’t know. We have to leave it up to the Army to investigate. For its part, the Army states, “Once officials received word of the alleged privacy violations, a full investigation was opened, followed by ‘swift action’ to correct the problem.” The problem is that we know from experience that you can’t have both swift action and a full investigation. A full investigation takes time, time that you don’t have when you take swift action.

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