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U.S. military court hears case on prostitution at Army base

Soldiers at Fort Hood attend a sexual harassment class. (Army.mil)
Soldiers at Fort Hood attend a sexual harassment class. (Army.mil)

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. military court began hearing arguments on Monday in the case of a soldier accused of being a part of a suspected prostitution ring at Fort Hood, one of the largest Army bases in the United States.

The Fort Hood case was part of a spate of embarrassing sex-related incidents in the military earlier this year that prompted Congress to look at ways to make top brass more accountable for the conduct of soldiers.

Master Sergeant Brad Grimes, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was charged earlier this year with conspiring to pay a female private for sex. His trial is expected to be one of several involving the suspected prostitution ring at the base in central Texas.

Another soldier, Sergeant First Class Gregory McQueen, is being investigated of operating a prostitution ring with at least three female soldiers, U.S. authorities have said. McQueen was not immediately available for comment.

Grimes' lawyer, Daniel Conway, said his client was persuaded by a fellow soldier to "hook up" with the private but money was never paid and Grimes never had sex with the woman in question.

"This is a case where the cart was put before the horse, where a press release was issued before any adequate investigation was done," Conway told Reuters.

U.S. lawmakers announced in November a renewed push to make sweeping changes in the way the military handles complaints of sexual assault, though approval of their plan in the Senate is far from certain.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)

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