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Friday, April 7, 2000

Tripler harassment
charge raised

The commanding general says
the accused officer has
been disciplined

Army dealt with several complaints

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Twelve Tripler Army Medical Center nurses -- two of them men -- are disappointed with the Army's response to a sexual harassment complaint they filed against a supervising officer last year.

The nurses, five of whom are civilians, were surprised by the light punishment given the officer, saying it contradicts the military's "zero tolerance" to sexual harassment.

The nurses accused the officer of repeatedly making lewd remarks and at times indicating that he expected sexual favors in exchange for good job-performance reviews.

The officer was given a letter of reprimand and transferred to another position at Tripler following an investigation last year, but the nurses complain that he is still posted nearby and continues to have authority over them.

Maj. Gen. Nancy Adams, Tripler's commanding officer and the only Army nurse to wear two stars, believes adequate disciplinary action was taken. In a correspondence to members of Congress, Adams said her definition of zero tolerance is "to take appropriate action within the dictates of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and/or administrative guidelines for punishment."

Adams declined to discuss specifics of the nurses' complaint, citing privacy issues.

Through a Tripler spokeswoman, Margaret Tippy, the Army officer also said he wasn't interested in being interviewed.

Tippy added that after the situation was identified, appropriate action was taken in September.

"Now it is time for us to drive on and focus on our mission of readiness and patient care," she said. In response to many inquires raised by the nurses to several members of Congress, Adams wrote:

"I have read each statement that was submitted in the investigation of this incident of sexual harassment. There were indications that within the surgical setting there is a lack of understanding regarding how individuals should handle incidents involving words and jokes that are sexually oriented.

"Also there is a tendency for the behavior to be tolerated by some while others are offended."

But she denied a request to transfer the officer despite complaints from the nurses that it would be difficult to work with him given his past actions.

Adams said she rejected pleas to transfer the officer, who is at Tripler on a three-year tour, because she believed that it "could be interpreted as passing on my problem to another command and indeed a reward for his misconduct."

Adams said the officer has been transferred to a position of lesser authority at Tripler.

She said the officer also was given a letter of reprimand and a "relief for cause" officer's efficiency report. All of these actions, Adams said, "are very damaging to an officer's career."

But the nurses maintain that even in his new position, they must deal with the officer while he is at Tripler since his office is nearby. The nurses also said that in recent field-training exercises, he was the officer in charge.

They maintain that Tripler officials have placed the burden on them to bring further charges against him, but that the fear of repercussions prevents others from stepping forward.

The nurses have written to several U.S. senators, the inspector general of the Army, the secretary of the Army and Defense Secretary William Cohen.

Some of the comments the nurses said the officer has made include:

Bullet Telling two male lieutenants, when referring to a female officer getting time off after suffering a miscarriage, that the only people to get days off were ones with pads between their legs.

Bullet Making comments about cucumbers and their use by women to three female nurses who had assisted another nurse with a domestic problem.

Bullet Telling another female nurse during a field exercise: "I'll give you a pass if you let me wash your underwear."

Bullet Repeatedly asking female nurses if they knew the difference between oral sex and a Big Mac. He also told them that when it was time for them to have their evaluations, he expected "lunch" if they were to get a top rating.

Although Adams wouldn't comment on the case, she said, in a written statement: "I will not tolerate sexual harassment. I expect personal involvement of every individual, at all levels, to ensure prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. Those engaging in sexual harassment will be dealt with in accordance with appropriate Uniform Code of Military Justice and/or disciplinary guidance."

But Adams added that "when corrective action has been taken, it is not valid to question my commitment to zero tolerance. The problem was identified and resolved. Therefore, it was not tolerated."

Adams said she has received no further complaints about the officer since the investigation was completed.

Army dealt with
several complaints

By Gregg K. Kakesako


THE Army has had to deal with several high-profile sexual-misconduct cases in recent years.

Last week, the Army's only female three-star general -- Claudia Kennedy -- said a fellow general officer groped her in her Pentagon office in 1996. The Army is investigating the charge.

Kennedy had informally complained to her superiors in 1996 about the officer, Maj. Gen. Larry Smith, and had assumed that it would hurt his chances for advancement.

Kennedy's formal complaint was filed after Smith was appointed deputy inspector general last August.

Smith's move into the deputy inspector general's slot has been on hold since November, according to Army personnel records. That is about the time of the sex harassment complaint.

As deputy inspector general, Smith would be responsible for investigating wrongdoing in the service, including allegations of sexual harassment similar to those of which he has been accused.

Last year, retired Maj. Gen. David Hale was convicted at court martial of having affairs with the wives of his subordinate officers. Some of the affairs are believed to have begun when he was stationed in Hawaii.

Hale also had been appointed deputy inspector general, in 1997, and had served for four months before he was allowed to retire after a complaint was filed against him.

The Army called him out of retirement and charged him with 17 counts of misconduct and, after he had pleaded guilty to eight of them, demoted him by one rank.

Hale was at Fort Shafter as deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific from 1994-96. He lost one of his two stars as a result of the court martial.

In 1998, the Army's top enlisted soldier, Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney, was court martialed for sexual misconduct, but he was convicted only of obstruction of justice.

Maj. Gen. John Maher, former commander of the 25th Infantry Division, was investigated last September for having an affair with a subordinate's wife.

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