2 top Navy SEALs have been relieved of duty after an investigation into sexual assault allegations
- Two Navy SEALs have been relieved from duty after an investigation into sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- The two sailors were ordered back to the US from an overseas deployment after the allegations were made.
- Navy SEALs have faced increasing scrutiny for drug use and other misconduct in recent years.
Cmdr. Jarrod Donaldson and Master Chief Jon Franklin, the commander and senior enlisted officer of a US Navy SEAL team, have been relieved of duty after an investigation into sexual assault and sexual harassment, officials told ABC News.
Donaldson and Franklin were relieved on July 9 by Capt. Jamie Sands, who is the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, a spokesperson for the unit said.
The allegations were made while the two Virginia Beach-based SEALs were deployed to East Africa. Defense officials told ABC News that one was investigated for alleged inappropriate touching of a female service member during that deployment, and both faced investigations into sexual harassment allegations.
Donaldson and Franklin were "pulled from deployment" in early May after the allegations were made. They retained their positions within the unit while they were in the US and the investigation was being carried out.
They were relieved after the investigations were finished and could still face administrative punishments.
"The Navy will follow due process," the spokesperson said.
Navy SEAL units — of which there are eight, four odd-numbered teams stationed in California and four even-numbered teams stationed in Virginia, plus the elite SEAL Team Six — have faced increased scrutiny for misconduct in recent years.
A few days prior to Donaldson and Franklin's return to the US, 11 Naval Special Warfare personnel, including 10 SEALs, were administratively discharged from the service after testing positive for cocaine or methamphetamines between March and April.
That incident that came less than two years after East Coast SEAL units took an operational pause to investigate drug usage and a little over a year after three current and former SEALS told CBS News that SEAL units had a "growing" problem with drug use.
"People that we know of, that we hear about have tested positive for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy," one of the SEALs told CBS News. "That's a problem."
Some have attributed recent disciplinary and conduct issues with the SEALs to the drawdown of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, though the US military's special-operations community continues to face a high operational tempo in relation to the ongoing war on terror and campaigns elsewhere.
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