An Air Force general who oversaw the promotions and development of senior Air Force leaders has been reassigned after an inspector general's investigation into his alleged inappropriate relationships with subordinate women.
Air Force officials confirmed yesterday that Brig. Gen. Richard S. Hassan has been removed from his position as director of the Air Force Senior Leader Management Office and reassigned as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff for personnel. The reassignment occurred last week, when the investigation was forwarded to a top Air Force general for the possible imposition of a punishment.
Capt. James Cunningham, an Air Force spokesman, said that a formal complaint against Hassan was filed Feb. 1, and that the Air Force IG began an investigation immediately. Cunningham said the investigation delved into an unspecified form of "misconduct." He declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing nature of the inquiry.
Two sources familiar with the investigation said Hassan allegedly fraternized with his subordinates and created a hostile work environment, akin to sexual harassment. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said a woman in his office filed the complaint. The IG's report on the allegations has not been released.
Hassan did not respond to a written request for comment and did not return telephone calls to his office. He also could not be reached by telephone at his home in Virginia.
Cunningham said Air Force Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of the Air Force Space Command in Colorado, will decide whether the alleged misconduct is worthy of punishment.
"The general will look at it, and he'll scrutinize it closely," Cunningham said. There is no timetable for a decision, he said.
Hassan, 52, was commissioned through the Air Force Officer Training School in 1978. He has held numerous positions throughout the service, including as director of staff of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base and as executive assistant to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1996 to 1997. Hassan was promoted to brigadier general on Feb. 1, 2002.
If substantiated, the allegations against Hassan would be the second high-profile case of harassment on the part of a senior Air Force officer in Washington in recent months. Thomas J. Fiscus, formerly the Air Force's top military lawyer and a major general, was accused last year of having several affairs and of engaging in improper conduct with more than a dozen women over 10 years. Those charges were substantiated, and Fiscus retired in January at the reduced rank of colonel. He lost nearly $900,000 in retirement pay.
The cases are particularly embarrassing for the Air Force because of the service's efforts to get tougher on sexual harassment after serious problems at the Air Force Academy. A Pentagon joint task force has been developing policy for preventing and dealing with sexual assault and for increasing sensitivity to potential harassment.
"It seems clear that the Air Force continues at its highest level to have difficulty with sexual harassment in the workplace," said David Sheldon, a Washington lawyer who specializes in military law.
"The Air Force continues to treat officer cases much more leniently than they do enlisted service members regarding this issue, which further perpetuates the harm," Sheldon said. "It also further undermines the Air Force's ability to deal with sexual harassment in the service."
Staff writer Bradley Graham contributed to this report.