General forced to retire for mishandling sexual-misconduct complaints


Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., right, served as commander of U.S. Army forces in Japan before being relieved of his command. (Yuichi Imada/U.S. Army)

An Army general will be stripped of a star and forced to retire as punishment for mishandling sexual-misconduct complaints against a subordinate, the Army announced Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., a former commander of Army forces in Japan, will have to retire as a brigadier general, effectively a demotion that will cost him pension benefits. The decision was made by Army Secretary John M. McHugh after a lengthy review. Under military regulations, officers can only retire at a rank in which they are deemed to have served satisfactorily.

In June 2013, the Army suspended Harrison from his commander’s job in Japan after receiving complaints that he had protected a colonel on his staff from allegations of sexual assault and other improper conduct. After conducting an investigation, the Army inspector general upheld the allegations against Harrison in August and he received a formal letter of reprimand in December.

The Army, however, kept most details of the case under wraps until April, when it released a heavily redacted copy of the inspector general’s investigation in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Washington Post.

Harrison’s suspension came in the midst of a high-profile campaign by the Pentagon to crack down on sexual assault in the ranks and to force commanders to take the crime more seriously. Troop surveys have shown that most victims don’t report sexual assaults, often because they don’t trust the military justice system to handle their cases fairly or with sensitivity.

Michael J. Nardotti Jr., an attorney for Harrison, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Craig Whitlock covers the Pentagon and national security. He has reported for The Washington Post since 1998.

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