A top Army sexual assault prosecutor has been suspended following allegations that he sexually assaulted a female lawyer under his supervision.
The allegations stem back to 2011, when the female lawyer says Lt. Col. Joseph Morse groped her during a sexual assault legal conference in Virginia, Stars and Stripes reports. So far no charges have been filed against Morse.
“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,” an Army official told Stars and Stripes. “Given that this is still an open case, we are precluded from providing any additional information at this point.”
"This reads like an article from the Onion," Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders, told the outlet. “Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing funny about it."
The allegations were made public Thursday morning just before the Senate was scheduled to vote on bills that would curb military sexual assault, the Washington Post reports. A bill put forth by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that would strip commanders' authority over sexual assault cases failed to get enough votes to overcome a filibuster. However, a competing bill put forth by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) that would appoint a special victims counsel for victims is expected to pass in a vote on Monday.
The news of the investigation into Morse comes just a week after the Army dismissed 588 soldiers for a range of indiscretions following a military sexual assault review.