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Obtain or Maintain Your Security Clearance Despite Engaging in Unfavorable Sexual Conduct

Many security clearance holders who work for or on behalf of the U.S. government are required to travel or be deployed overseas in support of U.S. missions. These temporary duty assignments can last anywhere from a few days to a few years depending on the mission. The unfamiliarity with a foreign country or excitement to experience new things while abroad may have a negative impact on your security clearance. This is especially true when federal employees, employees of government contractors, or military members engaged in sexual behavior that is against the rules and regulations that govern security clearances. Have you engaged with a prostitute while in Amsterdam or been given a “happy ending” massage while overseas? If so, you are not alone; however, that behavior may have a significant impact on your security clearance that can lead to a denial or revocation of your security clearance eligibility.

The type of behavior described above falls under the disqualifying conditions for Adjudicative Guideline D – Sexual Behavior. While engaging in sexual behavior misconduct is a serious offense and could negatively impact your security clearance, there are still aspects of mitigation that you can do to quell the government’s concerns. First and foremost, you must cease all activity involving prostitution or any nefarious sexual behavior. While this may seem obvious, the longer you go without engaging in such behavior, the stronger the mitigation is. Additionally, if you have a mental health concern that prompted you to engage in that type of behavior, seeking mental health assistance and obtaining a favorable psychological evaluation will further the mitigating evidence in your favor. Ultimately, the goal is to show the security clearance adjudicators that any mental health issue you have does not cast doubt on your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness and the opinion of an expert can do wonders to show this. It is also important to comply with any treatment recommendations of the mental health expert. In fact, simply taking an online course pertaining to the negative impact of prostitution can provide additional mitigation and may be the piece of evidence that pushes the decision in your favor.

If you are notified that your security clearance might be denied or revoked, you should not take it lightly as a revoked or denied security clearance will impact your career. Many people, even with such serious allegations, attempt to tackle the security clearance process alone and without providing the adjudicators the necessary and appropriate mitigation to make a decision in their favor. This is a mistake that can cause you to lose your security clearance. If your security clearance is revoked or denied you will have to wait a minimum of 12 months before you can reapply. Even if you are able to reapply in 12 months, you must still address the sexual behavior allegations that led to the revocation or denial in the first place. That is why it is extremely important to continue with the appropriate mitigation even if you lose your security clearance.

So regardless of whether or not you are currently facing a revocation or denial of your security clearance, it is important to stay cognizant of what Guideline D entails, as well as how to mitigate the government’s concerns if you do find yourself facing similar allegations. In the end, you will be held accountable for your actions both domestically and abroad since you are representing the United States. An inability to avoid or mitigate Guideline D allegations could cost you your clearance and your career.

Ryan C. Nerney, Esq. is a Senior Associate in the San Diego office of Tully Rinckey PLLC, where he focuses his practice primarily on national security law, with experience in federal employment and military matters. Ryan represents clients who have security clearance issues against agencies such as DHS, NSA, DIA, DOD, NRO, and DOE. He has represented numerous clients in security clearance revocation proceedings and has a proven record of saving clients’ jobs, as well as anticipating and resolving potential future issues with their security clearances. He can be reached at or at (619)-357-7600.

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