Army general suspended after fight with mistress

An Army brigadier general who commanded a South Carolina post has been suspended for allegedly having a physical altercation with a mistress, officials said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, the top commander at Fort Jackson, is the latest in a string of senior military officials who have come under investigation for alleged misconduct. The case comes amid an outcry from lawmakers and other critics who say the Pentagon is failing to address pervasive sexual harassment and assault in the ranks.

“The allegations are being thoroughly investigated,” said Harvey Perritt, a spokesman for the Army Training and Doctrine Command. Perritt said the Army’s criminal investigations division is handling the probe. Army officials did not say when the incident is alleged to have taken place or how it came to their attention. Perritt said Roberts would not be available to comment.

A defense official said Roberts got into a physical altercation with a woman with whom he was having an affair. “These are not allegations of sexual assault or harassment,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

If investigators find enough evidence, Roberts could be charged with assault and adultery, which is a crime under military law.

Brig. Gen. Peggy C. Combs, who runs the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., will take over Roberts’s duties until the matter is resolved, the Army said in a statement. Roberts had been at the helm of Fort Jackson, a large Army training base, since April 10, 2012.

Two other Army generals have been investigated in recent months for allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was charged last year with rape and other charges that involved an affair with a subordinate. His case has not gone to trial. Maj. Gen. Ralph O. Baker, who led a counterterrorism force in Africa, was fired in March after being investigated for allegedly groping a woman while he was under the influence of alcohol.

The Army disclosed last week that it was investigating a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas assigned to be his unit’s sexual assault prevention officer for alleged sex abuse and prostituting a fellow soldier.

Ernesto Londoño covers the Pentagon for the Washington Post.

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