An Army doctor rejected promotion to major at a public ceremony yesterday because, he said, officials have failed to respond adequately to charges that his daughter, 3, and other children were sexually abused at the day care center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Capt. Walter R. Grote, 33, told a gathering at a promotion ceremony at Fort Dix, N.J., "I cannot accept promotion in a system that at first refused to acknowledge and now refuses to deal with the victims of extensive child abuse that occurred at the West Point Child Development Center."
West Point spokesman Col. John Yeagley said the Academy had taken the charges of abuse "very seriously" from the outset, nearly a year ago, promptly referring the matter to the FBI once Army investigators determined that two suspects were civilians.
A federal grand jury has been hearing the allegations that 11 children, from ages 13 months to 3 1/2, were sexually or physically abused at a facility near the Academy athletic field.
One suspect was transferred to administrative duties with the post division that oversees the day care center, Yeagley said. The other has left the Academy work force.
Grote and his wife, Mary, led several other parents in complaining to West Point officials. Dissatisfied with the official response, they and another family filed civil suits and reported losing many Academy friends as a result. The Grotes have since dropped the civil action, they said, preferring to rely on the criminal proceedings.
Grote said his protest would cost him about $3,500 in salary in the next year -- the last in his obligatory four-year hitch.