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Pentagon investigators say a senior DoD official sexually harassed women on his staff
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Guy Roberts, the former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, biological defense programs, resigned in April, USA Today reported Thursday, in the midst of an investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General into reports of sexual harassment.
A report from the inspector general, released to the public Tuesday, contains allegations of inappropriate touching from three of Roberts' subordinates, including an incident in which Roberts, after a meeting at a restaurant with one subordinate and a government official, hugged the subordinate and kissed her on the cheek. "While hugging [the subordinate] Mr. Roberts whispered 'I love you'" according to the report.
Roberts was accused of several other incidents of sexual harassment, with that employee and others, creating "a hostile, intimidating, and offensive work environment for women" on his staff.
Though Roberts resigned in April, the Inspector General's office continued its investigation into the allegations and substantiated them, despite Roberts' claims that he did not believe he was sexually harassing his employees and his refutation of many of the incidents described, saying he was "surprised and dismayed by the conclusions contained in the report; specifically, that I sexually harassed and inappropriately touched the three employees and others."
Roberts also said that no one had told him his actions were inappropriate, despite several claims to the contrary contained in the report.
"I thought a hug was a method of inclusion [vs.] exclusion and was nevery [sic] intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable," he said. "I very much regret that my actions made them uncomfortable. No one indicated in any way that they objected to my actions nor did I sense anyone was intimidated by my rank and position … Any 'touches' or hugs I may have done were done because I interpreted their behavior as welcoming and appropriate."
Roberts also allegedly touched one of his employee's thighs, told her he wanted to see her in a bikini, and told her he lived in an apartment separate from his wife, which he found "liberating."
Roberts also touched another employee and gave her hugs which she described as "full body, arms wrapped around me, his hands on the mid- or upper part of my back, chests touching."
"You're conditioned to just accept the behavior," that employee said. "And then if you were to ever say something, you've never seen a good outcome. You've never seen someone like, oh, I was redeemed. No. You are now the woman that has said you've been sexually harassed," she said in the report.
Roberts also allegedly touched the employee's bare skin near her neck to look at a necklace she was wearing, which the employee described as "traumatic." Roberts said he hugged the employee only a couple of times, and that he didn't perceive touching her to look at her necklace as a problem because he said he asked to look at the necklace and "that's what happened."
Roberts also allegedly made inappropriate jokes in front of employees, on one occasion as many as 100 during a town hall meeting.
During that incident, he joked that "If you're bald up front, that means you're a great thinker, and if you're bald in back, that means you're a great lover, and if you're bald all over, that means you think you're a great lover." Roberts, who is bald, said he thought the joke was fine because he was making it about himself, and "if you tell jokes about yourself, you can never get in trouble."
During the investigation, which started Feb. 22 of this year, the Inspector General's office interviewed 18 witnesses and reviewed 4,053 emails and documents related to the allegations.
The report minces no words, saying that Roberts treated women on his staff differently and engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct— and, furthermore, that his response to the allegation didn't alter the watchdog's determination.
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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
A recent report from the Vietnam Veterans of America says that American vets are targeted by Russians and other adversarial governments online. Specifically, there are many Facebook pages and other social media catering to vets that are really operated by foreign entities.
Some may ask, so what? If the pages are fun, why does it matter who runs them? The intelligence officer in Moscow isn't running a Facebook page for American veterans because he has an intense interest in motivational t-shirts and YouTube rants in pickup trucks.
He's doing it to undermine the political and social fabric of the United States.