AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. Army soldier appeared before a military panel on Tuesday to answer accusations that he operated a prostitution ring with at least three female soldiers at Fort Hood, one of the largest Army bases in the United States.

Sergeant First Class Gregory McQueen faces 21 charges related to pandering, conspiracy, maltreatment of a subordinate, abusive sexual contact, adultery and conduct of a nature to bring discredit to the armed forces, military officials said.

The proceedings at Fort Hood, similar to a pretrial hearing in a civilian court, are expected to take two days.

McQueen did not comment on the case before the hearing.

Another soldier from the Texas base was demoted last year after he was found guilty of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicitation to commit adultery.

The Fort Hood cases are part of a spate of embarrassing sex-related incidents in the military last year that prompted Congress to look at ways to make top brass more accountable for the conduct of soldiers.

(Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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