A female military leader is under investigation over allegations of sexually assaulting and harassing male officers under her command.
Col Meghann Sullivan, commander of the 5th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 5th SFAB, was noted in the report of allegations involving two men and claims of harassment against other military leaders that included kissing and grabbing one man between his legs without consent.
“We have no information on that matter that we can share at this time,” Security Force Assistance Command spokesperson Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Patoka said in a statement to Military.com. “We take any and all allegations seriously and handle them appropriately as circumstances dictate.”
Sullivan became the first woman to lead a Security Force Assistance Brigade when she was promoted to the position in 2021. The group consists of engineers who advise allies in multiple locations in the Indo-Pacific.
“I’ve been in the Army over twenty years as an engineer, diversity and inclusion makes us stronger,” she said at the time of her appointment, according to the New York Post. “I am excited for young women to see that you can look and act different and be successful — I’d tell these women, don’t let anyone put a cap on you.”
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The investigation was not limited to Sullivan. Brigade Commander Co. Jonathan Chung was suspended over accusations of creating a toxic environment.
The report of Sullivan’s investigation comes as the military has started a crackdown on sexual assault claims in its ranks. Department of Defense Office of Force Resiliency Executive Director Elizabeth Foster said that the military is looking into ways to improve its response to reports of sexual assault, which increased by 25 percent between 2020 and 2021, according to a military report.
“The results are a tragic reminder of the challenges we face and the absolute need for continued leadership engagement, historic reforms that remain underway, and a focus on the latest in prevention so we can achieve the foundational change we need,” Foster said in a statement to CNN last year.
The Defense Department has hired hundreds of prevention professionals over the past year as part of a plan to increase to 2,000 new personnel to address sexual assault claims and prevent future assaults.
“When we talk about prevention, what we’re referring to is stopping a violent act before it occurs, either by increasing those conditions or factors that protect against that violence from occurring, or decreasing those conditions or factors that increase the risk for the violence occurring,” said Andra Tharp, senior prevention advisor with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at the Defense Department.