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BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"Latest in a series of sexual scandals in the military"
 real 28k

Friday, 31 March, 2000, 22:16 GMT 23:16 UK
US general 'sexually harassed'
To meet staffing quotas the US army needs women recruits
To meet quotas the US army must recruit women
The American army's highest-ranking female officer, Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, has filed a sexual harassment complaint against another serving general.

She alleges that the unnamed officer groped her in her study four years ago.

General Kennedy, one of only three women in the military who hold three-star rank, told her superiors about the incident shortly after it happened in 1996.


Kennedy: proof that women can rise to the top
Kennedy: Proof that women can rise to the top
Army sources were quoted as saying she accused the general of "inappropriate touching".

At the time she was apparently satisfied with the response to her complaint.

But last year, the man was given a prominent new assignment and, upset by that, she filed a formal complaint.



She broke the glass ceiling but still was not immune from sexual harassment

Congresswoman Carolyn B Maloney
"Since a complaint has been filed, I'm not in a position to comment other than to say we maintain a zero-tolerance policy that no harassment at any level is going to be acceptable or tolerated," Defence Secretary William Cohen told reporters on Friday.

Harassment report

General Kennedy, who is not married, served on a special task force in 1997 that examined sexual harassment in the Army and concluded that it existed "throughout the Army, crossing gender, rank and racial lines".

BBC Washington correspondent Tom Carver says the whole matter is extremely embarrassing for the Pentagon, which only acknowledged it after it was revealed in the press.

The Pentagon has often cited General Kennedy as proof that women can rise to the top levels of the army without harassment or discrimination.

She is due to retire this summer after a long career as an intelligence officer.

Line of scandals

This is only the latest in a series of sexual scandals to engulf the American army.

The army's top non-commissioned officer was recently acquitted of numerous sexual assault charges and, within the last year, two generals have been demoted for having adulterous affairs.

Advocates for expanding the role of women in the military said General Kennedy's complaint suggested that the military still had far to go to root out harassment and bias.

General Kennedy "broke the glass ceiling but still was not immune from sexual harassment," said Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn B Maloney.

"It took courage to come forward and file a complaint, knowing her own reputation would be the first on the line."

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16 Mar 98 | Americas
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