(AP) – A year after the U.S. Secret Service suffered a black eye following a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia during President Barack Obama's trip there, two agency officers are under investigation and have been removed from the president's detail following allegations of sexual misconduct.
According to The Washington Post, the allegations do not appear to involve a direct breach of Obama's security, but rather sexually-related misconduct, recalling previous scandals that have cast a spotlight on the service and its traditionally male-dominated culture. Thirteen agents and officers were implicated last year after an agent argued with a prostitute over payment in a hotel hallway in Cartagena, pointing to a culture of carousing within the agency.
The latest investigation stems from an incident in the spring at the Hay-Adams Hotel, an upscale hotel steps away from the White House, involving a senior supervisor responsible for about two dozen agents in the presidential security detail. The Post reported on its website that supervisor Ignacio Zamora Jr., was allegedly discovered trying to re-enter the room of a woman he had met in the hotel's bar after accidentally leaving a bullet from his service weapon in her hotel room.
After the woman refused to let him back in, Zamora sought access from hotel staff, who notified the White House, a Secret Service review found. In the subsequent probe, investigators came across sexually suggestive emails that Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent to a female subordinate, the newspaper reported, citing people with knowledge of the case.
Zamora has been pulled from his position, while Barraclough has been moved off the detail to a separate part of the division, people familiar with the case told the Post.
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Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to comment on the review or the allegations. The Post said that lawyers for Zamora, Barraclough and the female agent declined to comment. The newspaper said its efforts to reach Zamora and Barraclough directly were unsuccessful. The Associated Press was unable to find a telephone number for either of the men in the Washington area late Wednesday.
An inspector general report, an investigation launched after the incident in Cartagena, is expected to be released in the coming weeks, according to the Post.
Obama in March named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency's first female director, signaling his desire to change the culture at the service and restore confidence in its operations.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.