September 11, 1997 in Nation/World

Post’s Ex-Commander Punished In Army Sex Scandal Other Disciplinary Action Resulting From Aberdeen Probe Expected Today

Paul Richter Los Angeles Times
 

Under pressure from Congress, the Army has decided to discipline the former commander of the Army’s Aberdeen Ordnance Center and about 10 other officers and soldiers for their roles in the sex scandal that erupted last year at the Maryland post.

The former center commander, Maj. Gen.

Robert Shadley, has received a letter of reprimand in his personnel file, according to Pentagon officials.

The move - generally a career-ending form of punishment in the military - reflects the Army’s view that, though the infractions took place at some distance from Shadley in the center’s hierarchy, they reflected a serious command failure.

The other punishments, details of which are to be disclosed today as the Army announces the results of a lengthy study of sexual misconduct in its ranks, will affect battalion and brigade commanders and senior noncommissioned officers at the sprawling equipment-testing center.

Most, if not all, of the disciplinary actions would be career-ending, officials said.

The Army’s investigation of the scandal found numerous instances of consensual and forced sex between drill sergeants and female trainees at Aberdeen and other Army training bases, in violation of rules designed to protect young recruits. Twelve soldiers at Aberdeen have been charged in the scandal, including four who received prison terms ranging from four months to 25 years.

Last July, some officers said that Shadley’s transfer to another post indicated the Army had decided he would not be held culpable for the misconduct. But news that Shadley might escape punishment brought expressions of concern from some lawmakers, including Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. who said that she believed accountability extended through the chain of command.

Army officials insisted Wednesday that the timing of the move against Shadley reflected the service’s slow and careful pace in trying to determine who should be punished.

Shadley has indicated that he will contest the letter of reprimand, Army officials said. He is now deputy chief of staff for logistics and readiness at Fort McPherson, Ga., which - as home of Army Forces Command - oversees deployment of all U.S. troops.

Testimony in the Aberdeen cases portrayed the ordnance center as having an atmosphere far removed from a spartan Army post. The drill sergeants played a game of sexual contest with their recruits, sometimes pursuing the same women and covering for each others’ activities when officers were around.

The Aberdeen scandal was followed by a series of revelations about alleged sexual harassment and rule-bending romances by senior Army officials. Even now, the top enlisted man in the Army, Sgt. Major of the Army Gene C. McKinney, is awaiting word on whether he will face a court-martial on allegations by six women of sexual harassment.

As part of today’s announcements, Army officials are to detail a plan for dealing with sexual misconduct.

Their plan includes adding another week to basic training to increase the focus on values, improving the screening of drill instructors and the appointment of several top-level officers as watchdogs.

Not all are satisfied by the Army’s response to its sex scandals. Chris Lombardi, co-founder of an organization called Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel, said that the moves “don’t acknowledge the extent of the problem. … It’s spin control, and they’re doing a wonderful job of it.”


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