December 20, 2012 10:23:05 AM
WASHINGTON -- At least 31 people were suspended from two Army day care centers at Fort Myer, Va., last week after officials scrutinized their backgrounds and found criminal convictions including fourth-degree sexual assault and drug use, a defense official said Wednesday.
An earlier statement that the 31 people had been fired was erroneous, the official said. Suspension allows for the possibility of reinstatement or dismissal.
The escalating scandal surrounding the Fort Myer Child Development Center has triggered a review of hiring procedures, angered defense leaders, and prompted a late-night telephone call Tuesday from President Barack Obama to the Army secretary. In the call, Obama expressed concern and urged a speedy and thorough investigation.
Details of the scandal emerged this week, nearly three months after two workers were arrested on charges of assaulting children at the Fort Myer center. The slow pace of public revelations enraged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who on Tuesday ordered a worldwide review of hiring practices at all military child care centers, schools, youth centers and other facilities that involve children.
According to a defense official, 10 of the 31 suspended workers were involved in minor criminal offenses, 13 were involved in assaults, six were involved in drug use and two were involved in fourth-degree sexual assault. The official noted that neither person with sex assault charges ever ended up on a national registry of sex offenders. In some cases, sexual assaults can involve people over the age of 18 who are having consensual relationships with someone under the age of 18.