February 11, 1997 in Nation/World

Army Suspends Sergeant Facing Sex Charges

Chicago Tribune

In an abrupt reversal, the Army suspended its senior enlisted man from his duties Monday pending resolution of sexual misconduct charges brought against him by an enlisted woman.

As recently as Sunday, Army Secretary Togo West was defending the decision to keep Sergeant Major of the Army Gene McKinney in his job as top enlisted adviser to the high command, though drill instructors at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground training facility were immediately suspended after similar allegations against them.

In statement, the Army said “public attention” about the case made McKinney’s suspension necessary.

McKinney has been accused by former Sgt. Maj. Brenda Hoster of sexually assaulting her early last year, when she was assigned to work with him as a public affairs assistant. A 22-year-veteran, Hoster said she retired from the Army when superior officers refused to take action against him or reassign her.

McKinney has denied the charges.

The action against McKinney came as Army officials said they had received at least one new complaint that the sergeant major had sexually harassed a woman. Some officials, insisting on anonymity, said there were two new complaints.

“There are other allegations,” said one senior Army official, adding that the information had influenced the Army’s decision to suspend the sergeant major. “We’re not talking physical stuff. We may be talking about approaches to women.”

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