The Army’s top enlisted man repeatedly referred to his powerful position and his ability to “make things happen” during his ardent pursuit of a female sergeant, she testified Friday.
Sgt. Christine Petrow said at an Army hearing that on several occasions Army Sgt.
Maj. Gene McKinney urged her to have sex with him and hugged and kissed her. She said she always resisted his advances.
Prosecutors said Petrow is receiving special protection from the Army because her life was threatened by unidentified persons since she began cooperating with investigators.
Obscenities were carved on her door, her apartment was broken into and the perpetrators stole court papers and ripped the head off one of her stuffed animals.
The case against McKinney, which follows months of military sex scandals, is potentially the most damaging to overall Army morale. McKinney, 46, is a popular, affable figure who is both the ceremonial and practical leader of the Army rank-and-file. His job is to do well by them with the top brass and to project a positive, powerful image of the U.S. soldier around the world.
He is charged with 18 criminal counts involving four women whom he allegedly propositioned, some repeatedly, and is accused of having sex with one of them against her wishes, for which he is charged with adultery and assault.
One of four women who have accused McKinney of improper sexual behavior, Petrow testified at a hearing at Fort McNair to determine whether he should be court-martialed.
During the session, prosecutors played the tape of a Feb. 18 telephone conversation in which McKinney told Petrow that investigators were trying to “make me look like a bad guy.”
She told him that she had been questioned and that she did not want to get involved.
“All you have to do is tell them we talked a lot,” McKinney was heard saying on the tape played in the hearing room. “You called the office and we talked about career development stuff. That’s all they need to know. That’s it, period.”
He urged her to tell investigators that the only time they saw each other was when she came by his home and he introduced her to his wife, Petrow testified.
Petrow said they actually saw each other several times, including once when he took her to his office when no one else was there.
Unknown to McKinney, Army investigators attached a tape recorder to Petrow’s telephone and she recorded their conversation.
The sergeant said she met McKinney in October 1994 at a convention of the Association of the U.S. Army. They were among several people having drinks in a hotel bar. He left the table and then beckoned to her to join him across the room.
She said he invited her to his room, and when she suggested the others join them, he said, “No, just you, just you.”
When she declined, she said he told her “he was someone who could make things happen.”
She quoted McKinney as saying, “Don’t you know, you’re what I need.”
Over the following months, he called her repeatedly, often asking her to meet him, Petrow said, adding she consistently refused.