Another new prostitution scandal involving U.S. security personnel has overshadowed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's visit to Brazil.
Three Marines on a U.S. Embassy security team and one embassy staff member were punished for allegedly pushing a prostitute out of a car in Brasilia late last year after a dispute over payment, Panetta said.
Romilda Aparecida, the prostitute involved in the melee, has said the Marines were drunk and may have consumed drugs before leaving a night club with four other women in the Brazilian capital in December.
“An attorney and a secretary came to me the following day. They told me not to file a complaint because I would lose the case and it would take too long (to be judged),” Aparecida said.
Panetta said he had "no tolerance for that kind of conduct."
"Where it takes place you can be sure that we will act to make sure that they are punished and that that kind of behavior is not acceptable," he said.
According to a senior defense official, the three Marines — including one supervisor — were members of the embassy security team in Brasilia.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an investigation, said the woman broke her collarbone when she was out of the car.
The official says the embassy tracked the woman down and paid for her medical expenses. But in the wake of the Cartagena scandal, she has hired an attorney and is suing the embassy.
The incident in Brazil came to light in the wake of the Secret Service scandal that embroiled much of President Barack Obama's trip to Cartegena, Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.
The Secretary of Defense is touring South American to promote military cooperation with Brazil, Chile, and Colombia.
Luís Henrique Vieira, a freelance reporter contributed reporting from Brazil. The story also contains material from The Associated Press.