DoD Spokesman Reiterates Misconduct the Issue, Not Race
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 9, 1997 Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon at a press briefing May 8 repeated his earlier statement that sexual misconduct, not race, is the issue in current cases involving Army NCOs.
Reporters questioned Bacon the day after Army officials filed criminal charges against Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene C. McKinney and McKinney both denied the charges and claimed they are driven by race. The charges were four counts of maltreatment of soldiers, two of assault, one of adultery, two of communicating a threat, four of indecent assault and three of solicitation of adultery.
The charges stem from alleged incidents with three female soldiers and one female sailor between October 1994 and March 1997. Army officials said the charges are allegations and McKinney is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Bacon responded to similar queries May 6 following the sentencing of Army Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to 25 years' imprisonment for conviction on numerous charges including 18 of rape. While Bacon did not comment on any specific case on either occasion, he said race relations are not a problem in the military.
"The military remains an exemplary institution in dealing with the question of race," he said. "It should be very clear to all Americans that the military does the best it can to open opportunities to everybody who joins. We don't keep any group out. We're looking for the best possible people we can find, and that means we have to look broadly throughout society. We train everybody equally to work as a team and to trust one another."
Bacon said the military also has a well-defined promotion system that treats everyone equally. "The military has an exemplary record in dealing with race now," he said. "It has had for a number of years, and we plan to have that fine record in the future as well."
Bacon said DoD looks into all charges about the adequacy or fairness of investigations.
"Without commenting on any specific case, we take any allegation of irregularity seriously," he said. "We're trying to do the fairest, best job we can in dealing with all people. One of the reasons the military has been so successful in dealing with racial issues is that we do try as hard as we can to treat everybody equally. Part of that means pursuing charges of unequal treatment."
While public charges of racial bias have been made in these cases, Bacon said, he is not aware of any specific information that has come up in current investigations.