FBI agent used photos of female office staff as bait in sex trafficking sting -report

By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI agent faces possible disciplinary action after an investigation by the Justice Department's internal guard reveals that he allegedly asked a female support agent to provide "provocative" photos of himself to be used as bait used in an undercover sex trafficking operation.
In a memo on Monday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the investigation resulted in his office finding that the agent's behavior was not isolated, and there have also been other instances where agents have asked female clerks to identify as minors or to spend sex workers on covert operations.
While their faces were blurry and they remained clothed, Horowitz said the staff whose photos were used were not certified undercover or undercover workers.
The agent under investigation never received written consent from employees and advised them "not to tell anyone, including their superiors, about the UC operations."
"This behavior has potentially detrimental consequences" for undisclosed certified employees, Horowitz said, noting that posting their photos online could "put them at risk of crime."
Horowitz said the FBI has no guidelines on the use of photos of uncertified undercover workers in undercover operations. He asked the FBI to set up one and to ensure that the agents obtain written consent from employees who appear in photos during covert operations.
Brian Turner, an associate director of the FBI, responded in a July 27 memo, saying the office would "evaluate existing policies and determine which policies need to be adjusted".
He said the determinations about the special agent's behavior would be decided by the Bureau of Professional Responsibility.
The results follow a damning general report from the inspector published last month https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-watchdog-release-report-into-fbi-probe-ex-usa-gymnastics -doctor-2021 -07-14, who found the FBI office botched its investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that it will hold an oversight hearing on the FBI's failures in the Nassar case.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Bernadette Baum)
In this article:
Michael E. Horowitz
American lawyer and civil servant

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