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Army Suspends Top Enlisted Soldier

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 1997 – The Army suspended its top enlisted soldier Feb. 10 pending the investigation of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by a former soldier.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene C. McKinney was suspended from his duties by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer. McKinney, Reimer's senior enlisted adviser since June 30, 1995, will be assigned to the U.S. Army Military District of Washington during the suspension, Army officials said.

The suspension comes in the wake of a complaint lodged by Brenda L. Hoster, a retired Army sergeant major. She accused McKinney of grabbing her, kissing her and asking for sex during a business trip to Hawaii while she was assigned as his public affairs adviser.

Hoster said she did not file a formal complaint at the time because she thought no one would believe her. The 22-year veteran said when a transfer request was denied, she retired from active duty rather than continue in the assignment.

McKinney denies any misconduct with Hoster.

The Army action is the latest in a string of sexual harassment charges in the military. Hours after his confirmation, Defense Secretary William Cohen announced a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. Cohen said he wanted every incident reported, investigated and prosecuted to the extent the allegations are valid. People throughout the chain of command will be held accountable, he said.

Sexual misconduct allegations filed against instructors at several Army training bases last fall triggered renewed DoD efforts to prevent sexual misconduct. DoD's personnel chief Ed Dorn and the service secretaries appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 4 to outline department prevention policies and programs, including a senior panel set up by the Army to review sexual harassment policies.

Army officials said Reimer's decision was in both McKinney's and the Army's best interests. They said continued public attention makes it difficult for McKinney to fulfill his military responsibilities.

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