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Vietnam Vet Gets State Veterans Post Locke Promotes King From Acting Director

Gov. Gary Locke on Thursday appointed a Vietnam veteran to run the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs in the aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal that drove the previous director from office.

John M. King, who has been acting director of the agency since May, was appointed to the $72,351-a-year job. He succeeds Beau Bergeron, who resigned after one of his top officials was accused of sexual harassment and fired by Locke on May 6.

Investigators said there was no evidence Bergeron was involved in sexual harassment but he should have done more to investigate allegations against Harry Wedington, director of the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil. Wedington was fired after an investigation found evidence he had sexually harassed staff.

King, who appeared with Locke and spokesmen for veterans at a news conference, said morale at the home is improving and steps have been taken to guard against sexual harassment. There was never evidence that any of the 300 residents and their spouses had been harassed.

King has had a long career in state government, including stints as deputy director of administration in the Attorney General’s Office, and acting and deputy director of the Department of Agriculture.