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Woman sentenced for e-mail harassing top Schofield officer


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POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

A federal judge has sentenced a Kansas woman to five years' probation for sending more than a thousand harassing e-mails to Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, commander of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks.

U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway also ordered Debra Lynn Smith to perform 200 hours of community service and allowed her to serve her sentence in Kansas.

Smith admitted sending e-mails to Caslen beginning in April 2006, seeking his assistance regarding her status with the Army.

Smith, a West Point graduate and Army Reserve major, was fighting off involuntary separation from the Individual Ready Reserve, according to military records.

At the time, Caslen was the deputy director for the war on terrorism for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Two months later, he became the 70th commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Smith admitted sending Caslen more than 750 e-mails from April 2006 to June 2007. Caslen was not among the Army officials seeking Smith's separation, nor was he in a position to affect it.

“;This was a personal thing, myself and family. It didn't have anything to do with me professionally,”; Caslen said in a telephone interview from Iraq, where he is in charge of the Multinational Division North.

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On June 8, 2007, Smith admitted sending Caslen an unwanted e-mail, after which Caslen asked her not to contact him anymore. He told her any more e-mails would be harassment.

“;There were some very volatile, profane threats to myself and my family,”; he said.

Despite the warning, Smith admitted sending 521 more e-mails to Caslen over the next 14 months. However, Caslen did not report Smith to authorities.

By that time he had left West Point and assumed command at Schofield.

“;The harassment caught the attention of the people charged with the security of the commanding general at Schofield Barracks and they conducted an investigation and filed charges,”; Caslen said.

In July 2008, an FBI agent interviewed Smith at her home in Kansas and warned her that if she continued to send e-mails to Caslen, she would be in violation of federal law.

Still, over the next 3 1/2 months Smith sent Caslen 12 more e-mails from a different address, she admitted.

Smith chose not to make a statement before Mollway sentenced her last week. She and her lawyer declined comment for this story.

This is not the first time Smith has gotten in trouble for sending e-mails.

From July 2004 through September 2006, she sent disrespectful e-mails and made telephone calls to the commander and staff at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command in St. Louis, according to military records.

That is one of the acts of personal misconduct and conduct unbecoming an officer for which the Army was seeking her removal.

She is also accused of displaying disrespect, anger and unprofessional behavior while on duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., from October 2002 through April 2003; failing to follow orders and threatening supervisors when on duty at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., from March 2004 through February 2006, for which she received a written reprimand from a general; attaching a secret document to an unclassified e-mail in response to other accusations of misconduct in August 2005; and gaining or attempting to gain unauthorized access to classified material from November 2005 through January 2006, for which she received a letter of admonishment from a general.