WASHINGTON – A senior army officer accused the Air Force General of being the next vice president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a sexual misconduct that could jeopardize his candidacy. Members of Congress raised questions about the allegations and the military investigation, which revealed that the evidence was insufficient to charge him.
The officer told The Associated Press that General John Hyten had subjected him to a series of unwanted sexual advances by kissing her, hugging her and holding her. rubbing her against her in 2017 while she was one of his assistants. She said that he had tried to derail his military career after pushing him back.
The Air Force investigated the woman's allegations, which she reported a few days after the announcement of Hyten's appointment in April, and found that the evidence was insufficient to accuse the general or recommend administrative sanctions. The accuser remains in the army but has changed jobs.
"My life was ruined by this," she told the AP.
The woman asked not to be identified by name. Generally, the AP does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted.
The charges against Hyten come at a time when the Pentagon has experienced an unusual turmoil in its highest ranks, with only an acting Defense Secretary for the past six months. One of the candidates for President Donald Trump, Patrick Shanahan, recently retired after the details of his controversial divorce were revealed. On Sunday, an admiral, William Moran, who had been selected for the position of senior naval officer, retired because of what officials had described as an inappropriate professional relationship. Moran said that he did not want to be "an impediment" and asked to be allowed to retire.
It is unclear when or if Hyten's confirmation hearing will go ahead. This has not been scheduled, while the current Vice President, General Paul Selva, is expected to retire at the end of the month.
DeDe Halfhill, Pentagon spokesman, said on Wednesday that Hyten's appointment remained on track.
"With over 38 years of service in our country, General Hyten has revealed a principled and dedicated patriot," she said.
A senior Air Force official said the investigators had scanned 10,000 pages of documents, conducted interviews with up to 50 people and searched for all leads, but had not revealed any evidence to support allegations. The manager, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel issues, added that he found no evidence of the woman's lies.
Last month, Detectives Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, asking why Hyten had not been removed from office during the investigation. The letter, obtained by the AP, raised questions as to whether he was receiving special treatment.
The woman who made these allegations also said that she was wondering if Hyten had benefited from any preferential treatment because of her rank. She is concerned that her honesty and motives will be questioned because of the circumstances and the timing of the charges.
The woman started working for Hyten in November 2016. Although it is an air force general, she is part of a other branch of the army that she asked the PA not to disclose.
The officer said that unwanted sexual contact, kissing and hugging had started in early 2017 and had reappeared several times during that year while she was working closely with Hyten. She said that she had repeatedly pushed him and told him to stop.
In December 2017, while they were in southern California for the annual Reagan National Defense Forum, Hyten entered her room dressed in workout clothes and squeezed it into her arms and rubbed against her, according to the woman. She said that she had told him to leave.
Hyten then asked the woman if she would report him. She said that she had told him no.
The woman stated that she did not report incidents at that time to avoid embarrassment and fear of reprisal. She was also planning to retire and thought that was the case for Hyten. She therefore concluded that it would not pose a risk to other members of the service.
She later learned that she was under investigation by the Strategic Command for what officials described as "toxic" behavior on the part of the leaders.
This allegation surprised her, she said, because Hyten knew his leadership style and had "encouraged" him. He had given her complimentary evaluations, some of which had been reviewed by the AP.
"I was not the most popular commanding officer – in fact, you could say I was not popular at all," she said. "But I've done very well at transforming an organization."
In her interview with the PA, she showed copies of Hyten's performance appraisals in which she was ranked first out of 71 staff members. Hyten wrote that she had "unlimited potential to lead and serve with distinction as a multi-star".
"An exceptionally competent and committed leader, with the highest level of character," wrote Hyten, adding that "his ethics are irreproachable".
The investigators sent her a reprimand letter for her leadership and she was dismissed from the Strategic Command. She submitted her retirement.
But military officials in his service branch determined that his retirement was forced and they rejected it. They then transferred him to another senior executive position in the Washington area.
While in her position, the officer had received another negative assessment from Hyten, to which she had appealed. During the appeal proceedings, Hyten was appointed Vice-President.
The woman stated that she had decided that she could not live with the idea that Hyten could attack someone else when he was confirmed for the job. . She reported sexual misconduct to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
As the charges related to a criminal sexual assault, the case was referred to the Air Force Special Investigations Bureau and an official investigation into Hyten was opened. A few weeks later, General James Holmes, the officer in charge of the investigation, decided not to file a complaint.
When asked if she had ever filed similar complaints, the policewoman stated that she was one of the many people who reported a 2007 commanding officer for sexual harassment in Iraq.
The woman told the AP that she thought Hyten had committed "the perfect crime where no one will ever believe me".
"I have already completed a successful career," she said. "I had nothing to gain by doing that."