General’s Harass Claim Supported
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Army investigators have substantiated a charge by the service’s highest-ranking woman that she was touched in a sexual way by another general in her Pentagon office, senior defense officials said today.
The finding, in support of an allegation by Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy against Army Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith, will be reviewed by the Army’s vice chief of staff, Gen. John Keane, who will determine whether to take disciplinary action against Smith. Keane also could ask the investigators to look further into the incident, which happened in 1996, and resubmit their report, officials familiar with the case said.
The officials discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. The Army has refused to comment publicly on the matter _ even to confirm Kennedy made an allegation _ since it came to light in March.
``The Army will not comment on stories which speculate about administrative investigations,″ Maj. Gen. John G. Meyer, the Army’s chief of public information, said today. ``Inspector-general investigative procedures are designed to encourage candor and protect the individual privacy of all parties.″
The Washington Post reported today that Smith probably will receive a reprimand and be forced to retire if, as expected, the Army inspector general’s findings are accepted by Keane. Smith will be provided a copy of the findings and be given time to offer contrary evidence, officials said today.
Similar stories were reported in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
A reporter’s phone call today to the office of Smith’s military lawyer, Army Lt. Col. Robert Teetsel, was not immediately returned.
The exact behavior of which Smith is accused has not been made clear. The Post reported that the inspector general found that Smith tried to kiss Kennedy, and that Army officials do not view this as actionable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Smith, who is married, was announced last August as the next deputy inspector general of the Army, a position in which he would be responsible for overseeing investigations of the kind of behavior he is accused of. His status had been on official ``hold″ since last November, and he is assigned to the Army’s Materiel Command in Alexandria, Va.
Kennedy reportedly went to the Army inspector general with her complaint about Smith after the August announcement that he was being promoted to the deputy inspector general’s post. The Post reported today that Kennedy had hoped to save the Army embarrassment by pursuing the matter discreetly.
Since the case became public in March, neither Kennedy nor Smith has been willing to discuss it publicly.
Army officials said today that Kennedy had no comment on news reports of the inspector general’s findings.
The Post said investigators found that while Kennedy did not make a formal complaint of sexual harassment at the time of the incident, she described it to friends and colleagues soon after it occurred. Investigators found the supporting accounts by Kennedy’s friends and colleagues to be persuasive.
Kennedy, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, is due to retire in June. She is the Army’s highest-ranking woman and one of only three female three-star generals in the military. In 1997 she served on a special task force that examined sexual harassment in the Army and concluded that it existed ``throughout the Army, crossing gender, rank and racial lines.″
The Kennedy case is the latest in a string of embarrassing sexual misconduct cases in the Army. Coincidentally, one earlier case involved another two-star general from the inspector general’s office. Maj. Gen. David Hale served in the position of deputy inspector general for only four months in 1997 before he was allowed to retire after being accused of having had sex with wives of subordinate officers. Hale later was called out of retirement, charged with misconduct and demoted one rank after pleading guilty.