THE PENTAGON — Defense Secretary Hagel made his first statement on recent allegations the sexual assault prevention coordinator at Fort Hood was running a prostitution ring, telling reporters that the whole situation was, if you stop and think about it, actually pretty hilarious.
“First off, I have to say it’s tragic that female soldiers were forced into prostitution,” Hagel said in a press conference at the Pentagon. “That is sad. We have relief societies, financial planning services, and other resources to help our service members out when they are strapped for cash."
"Now that that’s out of the way, you have to see the humor in all of this," he added.
Noting that Sgt. First Class Gregory McQueen was the coordinator for SHARP, or sexual harassment/assault response and prevention, Hagel said "SHARP coordinators get accused of sexual assault all the time — which is kind of funny — but this guy really upped the game.”
McQueen, who is still under investigation, faces at least 21 charges of misconduct.
“Prostitution rings are common in the military,” Hagel said. “Everyone’s heard a story about a commanding officer running a prostitution ring or military wives making some cash while their husbands are on deployment. When I was in Vietnam my buddies and I-uhh, nevermind.”
Pausing the press conference momentarily to bring in members of the Army Chorus, Hagel directed soldiers to sing a stirring rendition of ‘Hard Out Here for a Pimp.’
“Just because I am laughing about this does not mean I am taking this situation lightly,” Hagel said. “We must remember Sgt. McQueen in innocent until prove guilty. At this moment the allegations against him are just allegations, the same as those allegations Cheryl made against me at last year's holiday party."
But rest assured, Hagel continued, "if this soldier is found guilty, his punishment will be severe and he will spend years working hard to prevent sexual assault in prison."