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Park Service says Gettysburg chief has been reassigned

By Kimberly Kindy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 24, 2009

The National Park Service announced Friday that it has removed its superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park and reassigned him to work in a cultural resources office as an assistant to the associate director. His job duties have not yet been determined.

John A. Latschar said Thursday that his demotion was in response to the public disclosure of Internet activity in which he viewed more than 3,400 "sexually-explicit" images over a two-year period on his government computer -- a violation of department policy. The misconduct, which Latschar acknowledged in a sworn statement, was found during a year-long investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general and was documented in an internal Aug. 7 report obtained by The Washington Post.

The reassignment came after a Post report Monday about the results of the investigator's forensic analysis of Latschar's computer hard drive, which showed "significant inappropriate user activity" and numbered the "most sexually-explicit" images at 3,456.

These findings were omitted from a 24-page public report of the inspector general's investigation into Latschar released Sept. 17. The investigation of Latschar was triggered by 17 allegations of misconduct and criminal activity. The report found no criminal actions or conflicts of interests.

Mary L. Kendall, acting inspector general for Interior, has declined to comment on why the computer investigation was not mentioned in the report.

Latschar has declined requests for an interview with The Post.

David Barna, spokesman for the National Park Service, said Latschar's annual salary of $145,000 and his pension will not be affected. The cultural resources office is based in Washington, but Latschar will commute from his home in Gettysburg to a Park Service office about 30 miles away in Frederick, Barna said.

Latschar's last day as superintendent was Friday, and he will begin his new job Monday, Barna said. Brion Fitzgerald, the chief ranger at Gettysburg, will serve as acting superintendent.

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