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Report: Ambassador Made Sex Advance

October 30, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. ambassador to Eritrea was recalled by President Clinton last year after complaints from two embassy employees that he made improper sexual advances, The Washington Times reported today.

The ambassador, John F. Hicks, ``violated standards for continued employment ... in that (he) clearly showed poor judgment and lack of discretion,″ according to a State Department probe of the incidents, the Times said, quoting a report by the department’s inspector general.

``Ambassador Hicks’ behavior was both severe and pervasive in creating a hostile work environment for these women,″ the report said. ``It was unwelcomed, repeated, unsolicited and clearly of a sexual nature.″

Hicks, a Goldsboro, N.C., native, was nominated by Clinton in May 1996 to be ambassador to Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia.

At the time he fired Hicks, Clinton was involved in what he has called an inappropriate relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

During an interview with the inspector general’s Office, according to the Times, Hicks admitted he tried to kiss one of the embassy secretaries but only to show his affection. He denied any other improprieties and told investigators his relationship with the second one was ``strictly professional.″

The ambassador, a career member of the Foreign Service, had served 22 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The State Department and White House declined to comment on the report, the Times said.

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