- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Gov. Sean Parnell on Thursday defended his administration’s response to reports of sexual assault and other problems within the Alaska National Guard, saying he and his office acted on every allegation that was made to them.

He said he took full responsibility for not discovering sooner the information he learned in February that prompted him to go outside the Guard’s leadership and take what he has called “concrete examples” of how the command structure was failing Guard members to the National Guard Bureau. The bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations conducted a review into allegations of sexual assault and fraud within the Guard that found that victims did not trust the system because they lacked confidence in the command.

Parnell asked for and received the resignation of Adjutant General Thomas Katkus upon receiving the report. He later asked for the resignation of McHugh Pierre, a deputy commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. More changes are coming, he said.

However, as it pertains to his office, Parnell said to his knowledge, his staff acted in good faith and reasonably. He said he complete faith and confidence in them.

During a news conference in Anchorage, Parnell took issue with any suggestion that he took years to act, but he said, “From here on, it is about making this right.”

Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott, an assistant adjutant general for the Connecticut National Guard, has been tasked with leading a team to implement recommendations for restoring confidence in the leadership and structure of the Guard. Mott was to appear at the news conference but Parnell said he did not receive clearance to take part.

Parnell said he thought he was misled by Katkus on several occasions. Last month, when asked if Katkus was responsible for some of the conduct identified in the report, Parnell said as the adjutant general, Katkus was responsible for that conduct just as Parnell was responsible “for being here to address it.”

On Thursday, Parnell said, “The buck stops with me.”

Parnell said he wished he’d had specific information sooner about the command structure’s response to claims. He said, at various times, he received descriptions of cases and how they were handled and said those sounded reasonable.

Parnell, who is seeking re-election, has been criticized for his handling of the matter. About 20 men and women showed up for a protest outside his office in Anchorage on Thursday, said Sue Levi, who was involved in the event.

She said Parnell needs to release emails and other documents and communications his staff was involved with in relation to the reports of problems that were made over the last few years.

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