Over the course of the past five years, powerful men in politics and the entertainment industry have been found to have sexually victimized their subordinates. Major scandals involving men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and many others understandably captured headlines around the world. Conduct exemplified by these predators gave rise to what became the #MeToo movement. Yet another powerful man has been outed as the apparent perpetrator of sexual harassment and sexual assault. In this case, the number two official at the Pentagon, Air Force General John Hyten, is in the crosshairs for his alleged conduct involving a subordinate under his command.
Army Colonel Kathryn Spletstoser accused Hyten of making repeated, persistent unwanted sexual advances over the course of a few years. Hyten has denied these allegations as of this time.
Spletstoser was the director of what is known as Hyten’s Commander’s Action Group. As a result of the position Spletstoser occupied, Spletstoser was required to have daily contact with Hyten. She was also obliged to travel with Hyten on official trips.
According to an Air Force internal investigation associated with Hyten’s alleged sexual misconduct, Spletstoser alleges that the first incident of inappropriate sexual conduct involving Hyten occurred during a trip to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. According to Spletstoser, Hyten aggressively grabbed her by the left hand, pulled her hand onto his groin, and forced her to keep her hand in that position until she was able to break free from her commanding officer.
Spletstoser maintains that this incident was only the beginning. She told the Air Force Inspector General that Hyten routinely told her that he had “feelings” for her. The General repeatedly tried to kiss or touch her when Spletstoser was alone with Hyten in his Pentagon Office. This conduct evidently also occurred in a private office at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
As of this time, the Inspector General has concluded that it lacks direct evidence to support the claims being made by Spletstoser because there are no witnesses to the assaults and harassment beyond Spletstoser and Hyten. The stark reality is that cases of sexual harassment and sexual abuse nearly always boil down to a proverbial he said, she said situated. People typically do not sexually harass or assault others in a public setting.
In the aftermath of the alleged incidents of sexual assault by Spletstoser, Hyten has attempted to use his position as the number two official in the Pentagon to fend off Spletstoser’s efforts to obtain justice for what she endured. Hyten attempted to claim that his current military service prevented Spletstoser from taking legal action against him.
A federal judge has now weighed in on Hyten’s claim. The judge specifically ruled:
“It is not conceivable that his [Hyten's] military duties would require him to sexually assault Plaintiff, or that such an assault would advance any conceivable military objective.”
Allegations about Hyten’s sexual misconduct were public at the time he was nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve in the number two position at the Department of Defense. Arguably, the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe took what many advocates for victim’s rights called a cavalier approach to Hyten’s alleged sexual misconduct. Inhofe is on record stating that his committee “takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously.” Despite that statement, the Senate committee can be fairly described as ignoring the serious allegations made against Hyten.
If you’ve the victim of sexual assault in the workplace or similar setting, The Doan Law Firm legal team stands ready to meet with you to discuss your legal rights. We can schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation with a Doan Law Firm sexual assault lawyer any time that is convenient for you. You can connect with our firm right now by calling (800) 349-0000. Our sexual assault lawyer hotline is staffed around the clock, 365 days a year, including all major holidays. In other words, we are always here for you.
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