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Air Force's Top Lawyer May Face Charges

Investigation Finds Fiscus Broke Rules by Having Improper Relationships With Women Over a Decade

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 8, 2004; Page A29

A military investigation has concluded that the Air Force's top lawyer engaged in improper relationships with more than a dozen women over the last decade, two Defense Department officials familiar with the findings said.

While overseeing the work of 3,200 people, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Fiscus, the Air Force judge advocate general, allegedly conducted affairs with enlisted women, officers and civilian employees in violation of military rules against fraternization, the officials said.

Officials say Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Fiscus, the Air Force judge advocate general, could be demoted. (U.S. Air Force)

Fiscus's pattern of behavior, one official said, was to seek to develop a relationship but to back off quickly if his advances were rejected. Thus the few incidents that do not involve consensual behavior tend to be minor, one-time instances of inappropriate touching, such as a kiss given on the lips when a cheek was offered in greeting, the official said.

Charges against Fiscus could be made as early as today, the officials said. Defense officials and others in the Air Force legal community expect that Fiscus, if found guilty, likely would be drummed out of the ranks of general officers by being demoted at least two ranks and retired as a colonel.

If he pleads guilty or is found guilty at court-martial, Fiscus would be the first judge advocate general relieved for improper conduct, a Pentagon official said.

The findings of the investigation are raising eyebrows inside the Air Force because of surprise at the amount of evidence, said the Pentagon officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were not authorized to speak about a sensitive pending case. Almost all the alleged activities were consensual but still appear to have violated rules and guidelines against fraternization with subordinates, one official said.

Fiscus's lawyer, Army Lt. Col. David Robertson, did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. Fiscus did not return calls to his home, and his wife said yesterday that he is traveling.

When the allegations surfaced in September, Fiscus asked to be temporarily relieved of his duties while they were being investigated.

The investigation's conclusions were sent last month to Gen. Donald G. Cook, chief of the Air Education and Training Command, who is supposed to determine whether to take action against Fiscus. Cook is expected today to notify Fiscus of any charges he intends to recommend.

One of the defense officials said that, as of last night, they expect Cook to recommend charges of fraternization, sexual misconduct and conduct unbecoming an officer. One reason that charges are expected soon is that the statute of limitations on some offenses that occurred years ago may expire.

Air Force Lt. Col. Johnn Kennedy, a spokesman for Cook, declined to comment, saying, "The case is still pending outcome."

Fiscus's situation promises to produce another black eye for the Air Force, coming after a series of major incidents of sexual harassment or abuse, most notably at the Air Force Academy. Also, in October, Darleen A. Druyun, a former top Air Force procurement official, was sentenced to nine months in prison for granting financial favors in contracts to Boeing Co. before going to work there. After that, a top Air Force general, Gregory S. Martin, withdrew his nomination to become chief of the U.S. Pacific Command after being questioned skeptically by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Fiscus situation may also produce new headaches for military lawyers, because of the likelihood service members who were charged with adultery, harassment or similar issues since Fiscus became the Air Force's top lawyer in February 2002 would seek to have their cases reopened.

Fiscus graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1972 and from Ohio State University's law school in 1975.

During the 1990s, Fiscus served in a variety of the highest-profile legal jobs in the Air Force. In 1995, he was the top lawyer for the Air Force unit enforcing the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq. He later served as the senior Air Force lawyer in the Pacific region, and then took over as the lawyer for the Air Combat Command.

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