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Top Pentagon official sexually harassed 3 staffers, watchdog says

By Darryl Coote
Top Pentagon official sexually harassed 3 staffers, watchdog says
Guy Roberts resigned as former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological programs in April. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Website

Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A top Defense Department official sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned from his position amid an investigation into the allegations against him, according to the department's internal watchdog.

Guy Roberts, assistant secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, "engaged in a pattern of misconduct in which he sexually harassed women on his staff," the U.S. Department of Defense inspector general said in a report released Thursday.

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The report concluded after interviewing 18 witnesses and reviewing 4,053 emails and documents that Roberts not only treated females on his staff differently from male staffers but made "deliberate, unwelcomed physical contact of a sexual nature" including hugging, kissing and touching of the three women.

The inspector general also found that Roberts created a "hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment" for female staffers by repeatedly making sexual comments to staff during meetings despite subordinates telling him not to do so.

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According to the report, the first employee said Roberts repeatedly greeted her with hugs and kisses when the two were alone, invited her on dates for dinner and drinks and whispered "I love you" in her ear as he departed a social event.

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The female employee told Roberts to stop, which he did for a few weeks only to resume the unwanted behavior again, it said.

"I wanted him to stop paying attention to me, and I wanted him to think I wasn't attractive," the female employee told the inspector general. "I mean, I consciously thought about what I was wearing and how I was behaving. It was awful. I mean, it was bad. It was really uncomfortable."

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The investigation was spearheaded after the inspector general received a complaint on Feb. 7 from the female employee accusing Roberts of sexual harassment.

During the course of its investigation, the inspector general learned of allegations that he sexually harassed two other women on his staff.

The other two employees accused Roberts of similar misconduct, including performing unwanted hugs and touching their clothing and skin.

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The inspector general report also states that Roberts' physical interaction and statements caused the women to fear their careers would be damaged or they would be fired if they rejected his physical contact or complained about his behavior.

Roberts denies that he was ever told his behavior was inappropriate and that he never intended to sexually harass his employees.

In writing to the inspector general, Roberts said he was "surprised and dismayed by the conclusions contained in the report; specifically, that I sexually harassed and inappropriately touched the three employees and others."

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Because Roberts resigned from his position on April 2 during the investigation, the inspector general recommends for its report be sent to the under secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment for inclusion in Roberts' personnel file.

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