WASHINGTON — Army Secretary John M. McHugh on Wednesday stripped a star from a general and forced him to retire over his insufficient response to a sexual assault complaint against one of his officers.
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, former commander of Army troops in Japan, was demoted to the one-star rank of brigadier general before his retirement, the Army said in a statement.
“Maj. Gen. Harrison was investigated and disciplined for failing to properly address a sexual assault allegation in his command,” the Army said.
McHugh’s action came four months after the Army’s Inspector General issued a report finding that Harrison had sat on a July 2012 complaint from a Japanese female civilian employee against a colonel he’d known for 20 years.
Instead of following procedure and referring the complaint to the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Harrison launched an internal probe.
The Army had suspended Harrison over the case in June 2013, four months after he’d been reassigned from Japan to be deputy commander of Army forces in Kuwait.
The number of reported sexual assaults across all U.S. armed forces jumped by 50 percent last year over 2012.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in May that the increase in alleged cases shows that sexual-assualt victims have more faith in the system thanks to reforms he’s implemented.
There were 5,061 military claims of sexual assault last year, almost three times the number a decade ago.
Branding sexual assault “a clear threat” to women and men in uniform, Hagel said, “It destroys the bonds of trust and confidence that lie at the heart of our armed forces.”
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