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U.S. military court finds soldier guilty in prostitution case

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. military court found a soldier guilty of taking part in a suspected prostitution ring at Fort Hood, Texas, 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 this year that prompted Congress to look at ways to make top brass more accountable for the conduct of soldiers.

Army Master Sergeant Brad Grimes, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was charged this year with conspiring to pay a female private for sex. His trial started on Monday at the base in central Texas.

"In the court-martial of U.S. versus Master Sgt. Brad Grimes, a panel found Grimes guilty of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicitation to commit adultery," the base's press center said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The military panel sentenced him to be reprimanded and demoted.

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

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

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Karen Brooks and Maureen Bavdek)

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