The Department of Veterans Affairs is still paying the salary of an official who was arraigned this week on seven charges of sexual assault against VA patients.
The VA put Charles Davis, a mental health worker in the Tomah, Wis., office, on "administrative absence." A VA spokesman said that's a status that allows a worker to continue being paid.
The spokesman told the Washington Examiner that Davis faces two charges of sexual assault in the second degree, one charge of sexual assault in the fourth degree, two charges of sexual exploitation, one charge of "lewd and lascivious behavior," and one charge of abuse of individuals at risk.
An internal VA message to employees said it was an "unfortunate incident," and said Davis was put on administrative leave. The VA is investigating the official, who has been removed from his clinical care duties.
According to the VA, Davis was a "peer support specialist" who saw patients in the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation program. He started in the Tomah office as a housekeeper, and became a peer support specialist in April, 2013.
The charges are just the latest scandal facing the VA, which has been in some form of trouble or another over the last two years. Among other things, the VA was found to be systematically denying care to veterans, and since then, the VA has refused to fire anyone over the scandal beyond just a few officials.
The VA has also paid out millions of dollars in benefits to senior officials to help with their moving expenses.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Wednesday that it would be a "deplorable violation" of trust if it turns out that Davis really did sexually assault patients.
"The allegations reported in the press are deeply disturbing," Johnson said. "If they are true, and if patients at the Tomah VA suffered sexual assault, it would be an absolutely deplorable violation of the duty this nation and the VA owe to the finest among us, especially those seeking relief for physical and emotional wounds."
"Nearly one year after serious problems at the Tomah VA came to widespread attention, it is of utmost importance that the VA protect our veterans from wrongdoers," he added. "I will continue to hold VA officials accountable while also addressing the other problems that have engulfed the Tomah VA."