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US Secret Service Facing More Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

A Secret Service agent stands near then-presidential candidate Barack Obama [background] at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia, October 2008 (file photo)
A Secret Service agent stands near then-presidential candidate Barack Obama [background] at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia, October 2008 (file photo)

The U.S. Secret Service says it is aware of reports that there were other times agents allegedly paid for sexual services while traveling abroad to protect the president.

In a statement Thursday, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said the recent investigation in Colombia "has generated several news stories that contain allegations by mostly unnamed sources." He said any information brought to the agency's attention that can be assessed as credible will be followed up on in what he called "an appropriate manner."

A total of eight Secret Service agents have lost their jobs because of last month's incident involving prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia. The alleged misconduct took place just days before President Barack Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.

The latest allegations came in a report Wednesday by Seattle television station KIRO-TV. The report quotes an unnamed U.S. government "subcontractor" who claims to have joined Secret Service agents and U.S. military specialists at a strip club in El Salvador ahead of President Obama's trip there in March of last year.

The subcontractor said members of the Secret Service paid for "sexual favors" in a VIP section of the club. He is also quoted as saying that at least two of the agents took escorts back to their hotel rooms, and claimed several agents bragged that they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it."

The report also quotes the owner of the San Salvador strip club as saying his club routinely takes care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in the capital, as well as agents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed the Colombia prostitution scandal Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, calling the allegations "inexcusable." But she said the actions of a few would not be allowed to tarnish the proud legacy of the Secret Service.

Appearing on a NBC television talk show Tuesday, Obama called the agents caught in the scandal "knuckleheads." But he also said they should not detract from what the Secret Service does. The president called the majority of the agents incredible guys, protecting him and his family, as well as U.S. officials all over the world.

The Pentagon is also investigating 12 military members who were allegedly involved in the Cartagena incident.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but off-limits for many U.S. government employees because of the possible security risks.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.