Trump Administration Hired Assistant Chief Accused of Sexual Assault
An employee in President Trump’s State Department was hired despite previous accusations that he sexually assaulted up to five students.
The allegations against Steven Munoz from his time at The Citadel in South Carolina had previously surfaced after he worked for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign.
But despite numerous articles about the claims easily searchable online, ProPublica reported Wednesday that Munoz was hired by the State Department as assistant chief of visits and joined on Jan. 25.
The first accusation was made after an April 2009 incident when a freshman who had fallen asleep spooning with Munoz said that he woke up to the then-sophomore grabbing his penis.
Munoz received only a warning from the Citadel after a mediation with the accuser, though four other younger students made allegations of sexual mistreatment against him after he graduated in 2011.
The claims involved alleged incidents where Munoz, a class president at the school, put his hand in a fellow Republican Society member’s underwear and jumped on a fellow student in a sexual manner.
Other claims in a 2012 police report include Munoz saying “it was more okay for guys to be with guys sexually before marriage than to be with girls and that God would be less angry at the two guys messing around than a guy and a girl.”
In response, The Citadel banned Munoz from campus.
Police forwarded their findings to prosecutors, who declined to indict the budding GOP operative and said there was not probable cause to charge him.
The campus ban was partially reversed in 2014 to allow Munoz to attend some events, though the school said that it “concluded that certain assaults likely occurred,” ProPublica reported Wednesday.
Munoz and his attorney Andy Savage have forcefully denied any allegations of wrongdoing, with the lawyer telling the Post and Courier in 2012 that they are like writing on a bathroom wall.
He added that the information was an attempt by a Citadel staffer who wanted to embarrass Munoz because of his politics.
Savage told the Daily News Wednesday that he believes the allegations’ resurfacing stem from someone wanting “to discredit his boss or bosses.”
He added that the claims were “thoroughly investigated by law enforcement” at the time, and he believes Citadel’s actions towards his client were an overreaction to previous stories about harassment and hazing.
Since graduating from the college where cadets are given military as well as academic training, Munoz has worked largely as president of the consulting firm American Southern Group, according to his LinkedIn.
ProPublica’s investigation showed that the group received at least $13,000 in September from Trump’s campaign for “event consulting,” and the LinkedIn shows that Munoz also worked for the inauguration.
Munoz does not list his State Department work on his LinkedIn, though ProPublica says that he is running an office of up to 10 employees.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to the Daily News that Munoz was hired in January as the Assistant Chief of Visits in the Office of the Chief of Protocol.
The department cannot give information about the employee’s security clearance because of privacy concerns, according to the spokesperson.
It added that “many aspects of an individual’s life” are examined when determining security clearances, but that “access to classified information shall only be granted following an appropriate investigation and the determination that the applicant’s personal and professional history affirmatively indicates, among other factors, loyalty, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, and reliability.”
(h/t New York Daily News)