Witness: McKinney Accuser Had Plan
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (AP) _ The first woman to accuse the Army’s former top enlisted man of sexual harassment told a co-worker she ``had a plan″ to bring him down a month before she went public, the co-worker testified Friday.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Brenda Hoster, a former aide to Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney, came forward in February 1997 to say McKinney had grabbed and propositioned her during a business trip the previous year.
However, retired Maj. Marianna Yamamoto testified Friday that Hoster had told her a month before that ``she said she had a plan to bring down the sergeant major of the Army.″
Ms. Hoster did not elaborate on the plan, Ms. Yamamoto said.
Ms. Hoster was the first of six military women to make sexual harassment allegations against McKinney. She has testified she was angry when McKinney was appointed to a panel investigating sexual harassment in the Army, and decided to come forward.
McKinney, 47, was suspended as sergeant major of the Army after Ms. Hoster made her allegations, and was permanently removed from the job in October. He was the first black to hold the position
All six of his accusers have testified over two weeks of prosecution testimony and at an eight-week preliminary hearing last summer that led to the court-martial.
Also Friday, a defense witness said another of McKinney’s accusers, Staff Sgt. Christine Fetrow, who is white, once made a racist statement when she learned the Army might move her from California to New Mexico.
``She said why can’t we send her to Ireland where there are all white people,″ said Chief Warrant Officer Debra Varga, testifying for the defense.
McKinney’s lawyers argued, outside the presence of the jury, that the panel also should be allowed to hear testimony from Ms. Varga that Ms. Fetrow used anti-Hispanic remarks. The attorneys claimed the testimony would show possible bias on the part of Ms. Fetrow toward McKinney.
Ms. Fetrow accounts for 10 of the 19 charges against McKinney.
Prosecutor Lt. Col. Michael Child objected, saying such testimony ``confuses the issues and sets up an emotional thing for the jury.″
The military judge, Col. Ferdinand Clervi, ruled for the prosecution and barred Ms. Varga from testifying about the alleged epithets.
Ms. Varga admiited in the stand that she had been investigated for allegedly mishandling money after Ms. Fetrow accused her of theft, but that the investigation found she had done nothing wrong.
In another matter taken up without the jury present, Gittins asked that the charges against McKinney be dismissed because of comments by an Army lawyer whom news organizations quoted anonymously.
Gittins said the comments reported by The Associated Press and The Washington Post about evidence the Army intends to use later in the trial against McKinney was an improper effort to influence the jury.
Clervi denied the motion, ruling there is ``not a scintilla of evidence″ that the Army lawyer’s comments had any effect on the trial.
The lawyer had said prosecutors intend to present evidence that indicates McKinney may have doctored a document to support an alibi for two of the charges.