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Pentagon investigates sexual harassment charge filed by top female general
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon has confirmed that the U.S. Army's most senior female general has filed a sexual harassment charge against a male general.
When she received her third star in 1997, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy became the Army's highest-ranking female. Now, just months before her planned retirement, she has become the most senior soldier to complain of sexual harassment.
Kennedy, 52, is not talking publicly. And, citing privacy concerns, neither is the Pentagon.
"Since the complaint has been filed, I am not in a position to comment, other than to say we maintain a zero tolerance policy that no harassment at any level is going to be acceptable or tolerated," Defense Secretary William Cohen said Friday during an appearance with the Ukrainian defense minister.
Pentagon sources say that late last year Kennedy, who is single, told the Army's inspector general that in 1996 when she was a two-star general, a male general of equal rank touched her in an inappropriate way in her Pentagon office.
According to The New York Times, it was only after the accused general's name came up for a prominent assignment that Kennedy filed the formal complaint.
In 1997, one year after the alleged incident and at the height of an investigation of sexual misconduct at the Army's Aberdeen training base, Kennedy told CNN in an interview that she had been sexually harassed more than once during her Army career, and felt all harassment, no matter how minor, should be investigated.
"One interesting aspect of it was that it was not a particularly egregious thing that was done, but it was absolutely harassment," Kennedy noted in March of 1997.
"When they investigated it, they found that the person who did a fairly benign thing to me had done very egregious things to two other women. And so what this shows is that when it happens to a woman, even at the lowest level, she needs to report it," she said.
The Army won't identify the accused general unless the sexual harassment charges against him are substantiated.
This case is the latest embarrassment for the Army, which has suffered a string of sex scandals in recent years.
Last year retired Maj. Gen. David Hale was convicted at court-martial of having affairs with the wives of his subordinate officers.
In 1998 the Army's top enlisted soldier, Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney, was court-martialed for sexual misconduct, but was convicted only of obstruction of justice.
Army officials said the high-profile case shows that the military takes every sexual harassment charge seriously.
However, critics said the case demonstrates that sexual harassment remains a problem for women in the Army no matter how high their rank.
Army refuses comment on general's reported sexual harassment claim
U.S. Department of Defense
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