The top Army prosecutor for sexual assault cases has been suspended after a lawyer who previously worked with him reported that he groped her and attempted forced intimate contact while they attended a legal conference on sexual assault.
As military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports, Lt. Col. Joseph Morse supervised the Army’s nearly two dozen special victim prosecutors, and oversaw the Army's global prosecutorial training program.
Two sources have confirmed that Morse has been suspended while the Army investigates the allegations. No charges have been filed.
More from Chris Carroll and John Vandiver at Stars and Stripes:
Sources told Stars and Stripes that the female Army lawyer alleged that Morse attempted to kiss and grope her against her will. The alleged assault reportedly took place in a hotel room at a 2011 sexual assault legal conference attended by special victims prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., before he was appointed as chief of the Trial Counsel Assistance Program.
An Army official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter confirmed an investigation was under way.
“We can confirm that this matter is currently under investigation and that the individual in question has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the investigation,” the official said. “Given that this is still an open case, we are precluded from providing any additional information at this point.”
The suspension follows on the heels of a late February announcement by the Army it had suspended 588 troops and employees in “positions of trust” — including sexual assault response personnel — for suspected offenses including sexual crimes and alcohol abuse.
In related news, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's proposal to strip senior military commanders of their ability to prosecute sexual assault is expected to come up for a vote on Thursday. The measure is opposed by Pentagon leadership, but has received widespread support in the Senate.
Gillibrand's spokesman, Glen Caplin, told the Associated Press Wednesday the Gillibrand is "optimistic there will be enough senators to break the filibuster and provide our brave men and women the fair shot at justice they deserve."
h/t Jessica Valenti