The Army’s most senior female officer has filed a sexual harassment complaint against a fellow general, accusing him of groping her in her Pentagon office in 1996, The Washington Times has learned.
Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, lodged the charges stemming from the general’s visit to her office when she was a major general and assistant deputy chief for intelligence.
Agents of the Defense Department inspector general’s office have been investigating the charge and have interviewed Gen. Kennedy’s former staff members.
An Army spokesman at the Pentagon said yesterday, “Lt. Gen. Kennedy has no comment.”
One ex-officer told The Times that he was interviewed by the male general’s defense lawyer, who asked him about Gen. Kennedy’s demeanor on a certain October date in 1996 and about her office layout.
An Army source said Gen. Kennedy complained to the IG of “inappropriate touching.”
An Army lawyer identified by sources as the male general’s attorney declined to comment to a reporter. The accused general’s identify and current rank could not be learned yesterday.
Gen. Kennedy’s charge apparently represents the military’s first case of purported general-on-general sexual harassment. Such charges typically involve superiors making unwanted sexual advances to subordinates.
Gen. Kennedy, 52, who is single, recently told her staff in a memo that she is retiring. She had been mentioned in the past year as possibly the next director of the Defense Intelligence Agency or deputy CIA director.
“As you may have already heard, this summer I will retire,” she said in the Feb. 9 memo.
Gen. Kennedy is one of the armed forces’ most high-profile generals, one of only three three-star female officers in the armed forces. She was the Army’s first three-star female officer when she gained promotion to lieutenant general in 1997, becoming the service’s top intelligence officer.
She is said to be first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s favorite general. Gen. Kennedy is also friends with Walter Kaye, a Democratic Party financial contributor who got Monica Lewinsky her White House internship. Mr. Kaye is an Army “civilian aide,” one of 50 such volunteers who sell the Army to the public and advise senior service leaders.
In an October 1997 interview with USA Weekend, Gen. Kennedy said she had been sexually harassed during her 31-year career.
“I dealt with it individually,” she said. “I just said no in the way I needed to say no, and there were times when I had to say no very forcefully. I can remember making an absolute threat to someone that if he ever did this to me, or said it, or made me even think he was about to, I would be taking him in to see the person that was pretty high up in our chain. So you have to come back like that sometimes.”
In her message to staff members on her impending retirement, she said:
“I have the usual twinges about retiring … unsure of the future pay for housing. No more push-ups. The wrenching away from you and other soldiers. But I also view this as a great opportunity to redefine the terms on which I live and am already enjoying the exploration process. The timeline will probably be this: stop being the [deputy chief of staff for intelligence] in early June (and no I don’t know who the new DCSINT will be). Retire on 1 August. Big party to which you are all invited on Friday the 4th of August at the Mayflower.”
Gen. Kennedy raised some eyebrows when she spoke last year during an annual conference of sergeant majors at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The sergeants said they were expecting a talk on the Army’s changing intelligence structure but instead received a lecture on the service’s Consideration of Others (COO) program. COO brings soldiers together to talk about personal and professional problems and their feelings.
“She giggled, much like a little girl, as she inferred that they had not been ‘COO’ing at those bases,” one sergeant said. “I really was tempted to ask about training down to the weak link, but I could not risk being politically incorrect at the venue present.”
The nonpartisan White House Project listed Gen. Kennedy in 1998 among 20 potential female presidential candidates.
The Army has been forced to deal with several high-profile sexual harassment cases. Its former top enlisted man was court-martialed on sexual-misconduct charges, but a jury cleared him of all but an obstruction of justice count. A retired major general was convicted at court-martial of having affairs with the wives of his subordinate officers.