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US Pentagon report reveals senior Defense official sexually harassed women on staff

02:00  13 december  2019
02:00  13 december  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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A Pentagon report has found that a senior Defense Department official sexually harassed several women on his staff , touching them and making inappropriate comments. One woman alleged that Guy Roberts, the top civilian in charge of the country's nuclear weapons program

A senior civilian official at the Pentagon was a “hostile” and “abusive” boss who sexually harassed a female subordinate and used defense contractors to fetch booze for The report was completed in July 2014 but defense officials kept it under wraps until Friday, when The Washington Post obtained

The Pentagon's watchdog has found that a former top Department of Defense (DOD) civilian sexually harassed three women on his staff, frequently touching them and making sexual comments.

a view of a city: Pentagon report reveals senior Defense official sexually harassed women on staff© Getty Images Pentagon report reveals senior Defense official sexually harassed women on staff

The DOD Office of the Inspector General on Thursday released a report on Guy Roberts, the former assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear programs. The report's findings "substantiated the allegations that Mr. Roberts engaged in a pattern of misconduct in which he sexually harassed women on his staff."

"Specifically, he frequently hugged them, touched them, and made sexual comments. In addition, he made jokes that many found inappropriate and offensive and which caused employees to feel uncomfortable," according to the report's summary.

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Additionally, the official sexually harassed two other subordinates, committing unspecified “ sexually inappropriate conduct toward them.” In addition to his pattern of harassing and abusing female employees, the official also had a long-term sexual relationship with a subordinate.

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The office began to look into sexual harassment accusations against Roberts in February after a complaint was passed on to the watchdog. Roberts resigned quietly in early April.

Asked to comment Thursday on the report and sexual harassment allegations against Roberts, top Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said he was "not familiar with that at all."

During the investigation, the agency interviewed Roberts and 18 witnesses, in addition to reviewing 4,053 official emails and other relevant documents.

The office determined that Roberts treated women on his staff differently, "and made deliberate, unwelcomed physical contact of a sexual nature by hugging, kissing, or touching" the three employees. He also "made deliberate, repeated, and unwelcomed verbal comments of a sexual nature," according to the report.

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White House and Defense Department officials characterized the much-anticipated study as a welcome sign that victims are more comfortable reporting assaults and that victims perceive the Pentagon to be taking the problem seriously.

Sexual assault in the United States armed forces is an ongoing issue which has received extensive media coverage in the past several years. At least 32% of U.S. military women report having been sexually assaulted, and up to 80% have been sexually harassed .

Roberts's actions and comments "created an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment for the three women," and caused them "to fear damage to their professional reputations and to fear being fired if they rejected his physical contact or complained about his behavior."

Roberts told investigators that it was not his intent to sexually harass the women and that they didn't tell him his behavior was inappropriate or made them uncomfortable.

"I am surprised and dismayed by the conclusions contained in the report; specifically, that I sexually harassed and inappropriately touched the three employees and others," Roberts told the watchdog, according to the report.

But the office noted that one of the women told him "on several occasions that his behavior and comments were unwelcome and unacceptable."

Further, Roberts knew or should have known, "based on his experience and training, that the physical contact and sexually suggestive comments were completely inappropriate," the watchdog concluded.

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