Growing impatient with questions about details of her memory, the woman who made the first sex abuse allegations against the Army’s top enlisted man accused a defense attorney Saturday of “nit-picking.”
“It happened to me, sir,” she said. “I’m the victim. I’m feeling this.”
The flare-up occurred during cross-examination of retired Sgt. Maj. Brenda Hoster at a Fort McNair hearing to determine if Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney should be court-martialed on sexual misconduct charges.
At an unusual Saturday session, Lt. Col. V. Montgomery Forrester, a member of McKinney’s defense team, questioned Hoster on differences between a statement she ave Army investigators last February and her testimony at the hearing.
The differences often involved whether a meeting or conversation took place on a particular date or a day or two earlier or later.
Prosecutors quickly objected when Forrester asked Hoster if she ever held hands in public with Command Sgt. Maj. Zulma Santiago. Moments earlier, Hoster described Santiago as “my landlord, she’s my friend, she’s my mentor.”
She said they shared a house in Texas from January 1993 until she transferred to Washington in 1995. Santiago is stationed in South Korea.
“Do you plan to live with her again?” asked Forrester.
“No, sir,” replied Hoster.
“Did you exchange personal property with her, like rings?” he asked.
“No, sir,” said Hoster.
“Held hands in public?” he asked.
At that point prosecutors objected, and the presiding officer ordered spectators from the room.
Hoster agreed to testify only after government prosecutors said they would object to questions about her sex life that were unrelated to alleged incidents involving McKinney.
Hoster, 40, has alleged that during a trip to Hawaii in April 1996, McKinney came to her hotel and pressured her to have sex. He kissed her and picked her up, she said, and when she demanded that he stop, he left.
Hoster said that after the incident she called Sgt. Dolores Holts, another McKinney aide traveling with their boss, and told her what had happened. She said Holts wasn’t surprised and told her that something similar had happened to another friend.
Forrester asked whether that part of the conversation took place that night or the next morning. Hoster said she wasn’t certain.
Forrester then asked Hoster how she would react if Holts said she never said any such thing.
“She would be contradicting what she said to me,” said Hoster.
She then flared at Forrester. “This happened,” she said of the Hawaii incident, “even if I can’t recall minute by minute, step by step.” She said Forrester was “nit-picking.”