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McKinney sentenced to reduction in rank and reprimand

McKinney arriving
McKinney arrives at the courthouse for sentencing   
March 16, 1998
Web posted at: 4:03 p.m. EST (2103 GMT)

Former Army sergeant major avoids prison time

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia (CNN) -- Former Army Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney was reduced two pay grades Monday to master sergeant for his conviction on an obstruction of justice charge.

McKinney also was given a reprimand, but will serve no time in prison.

While a military jury found McKinney guilty last Friday on the obstruction of justice charge, he was acquitted on 17 counts relating to sexual misconduct and another obstruction of justice charge.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to sentence McKinney to no less than six months in prison.

McKinney -- who served 29 years in the Army -- plans to retire soon and it was not immediately clear how the sentence would affect his retirement pay.

As sergeant major of the Army, the highest-ranked enlisted soldier, McKinney was an E-10. When the charges against him arose, he was removed from that position and became a command sergeant major.

The sentence will reduce him to E-8 and the position of master sergeant.

Charge arose over phone call

The sentence came from the same jury of six men and two women that last week convicted him of that count and acquitted him of 18 other charges in a high-profile court-martial involving allegations of sexual misconduct.

The obstruction of justice conviction came in connection with a tape-recorded telephone conversation with a female staff sergeant who, along with five other women, had accused McKinney of pressuring them for sex.

On the tape, McKinney is heard telling the subordinate that she needed to talk with military investigators about the allegations against him, but that she need only say that she spoke with McKinney about career development.

That phone call was taped two weeks after the Army began its investigation last year.

In the court-martial, McKinney, who was the first black person to become the sergeant major of the Army, had been charged with making threats, mistreating subordinates, indecent assault, adultery and obstructing justice.


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