The Trump Administration has hired an individual who is an accused sexual predator to help arrange visits of foreign leaders to the United States.
The allegations aren’t even just some vague bit of history on this guy’s part. No; although he was never formally prosecuted, investigations into the incidents in question concluded that he had, in fact, committed sexual assault.
The individual in question, Steven Munoz, committed the crimes in question while a student at The Citadel military academy in South Carolina. In a pattern of abuse and assault spanning years, Munoz used his senior position in the school to intimidate students into allowing him to have sexual contact with them. These incidents took place over a span of years, and were enabled because of the school’s system of giving upperclassmen some authority over younger students.
These assaults didn’t happen that long ago, either, with the most recent reported one taking place, according to ProPublica, in spring of 2011. Some of the details about Munoz’s case were already known, while others were not. Munoz came under scrutiny for his past criminal activity while working for the 2012 Rick Santorum presidential campaign.
He has worked in South Carolina as a political consultant ever since graduating from school in 2011. Many students of The Citadel go on to join the U.S. Armed Forces, with the school including military training and traditional coursework in its programs.
Munoz’s lawyer, Andy Savage, has chalked up the allegations against his client to such diverse causes as political targeting, exaggeration of “typical” behavior, and an effort to divert attention away from other sexual assault scandals involving the school.
Again, however, an investigation by The Citadel itself found that there was probable cause to believe that actual incidents of sexual assault had occurred, with an investigation by State Police also finding the case against Munoz to be substantive. South Carolina State Police referred Munoz’s case to the Charleston County prosecutor’s office.
The Charleston County Prosecutor, Scarlett Wilson, decided one week after being referred the two hundred page case from the state police that she would not press charges against Munoz. Wilson unsurprisingly did not respond to a request for comment from ProPublica.
A spokesperson for the State Department confirmed that Munoz joined the Department on January 25, but declined to comment further. Munoz’s role at the State Department is assistant chief of visits. As mentioned, he runs an office “of up to 10 staffers charged with the sensitive work of organizing visits of foreign heads of state to the U.S.” That duty includes arranging visits with the President.
A former White House staffer who helped vet appointees in the Obama era explained to ProPublica why he’s surprised that someone like Munoz actually got a job in government.
This staffer explained:
‘Any significant negative media reports or criminal accusations would lead a file to be flagged for further scrutiny by White House lawyers… Sexual assault allegations would be a serious flag. In the Obama years, candidates under consideration for jobs were passed over because of, for example, a drunk driving case or for being a registered lobbyist.’
And yet, with basically no regard to any standards of governmental protocol at all, Munoz has a job in the Trump White House.
Is it really that surprising?
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