Army Suspends General for Dropping Ball on Sex Assault Case

9:06 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison (Photo: U.S. Army)
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(USA TODAY by Tom Vanden Brook)  WASHINGTON -- The Army on Friday suspended a top commander in Japan for failing to properly investigate a sexual assault allegation, an action that follows a month of increasing calls in Congress for accountability for a crisis that has affected all the services.

Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison, the commanding general of U.S. Army Japan, was relieved of his duties by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff. Harrison himself is not accused of sexual misconduct, said Army spokesman George Wright.

The sexual abuse case took place sometime in the last year, Wright said.

The Army also announced that Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer, the former deputy commanding general of United States Army Europe, will serve as the interim commander until the investigation is complete and the issue resolved.

Harrison is one of the highest-ranking officers to be ensnared in the sexual abuse crisis gripping the military. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat and member of the armed services committee, has blocked the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command because of Helms' decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case. He is a decorated soldier who has served in Afghanistan.

Last month the Army suspended Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, the top officer at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina, over allegations of assault and adultery.

The military's sexual assault crisis came to the fore last week after a report showed that the estimated incidents of unwanted sexual contact among the ranks had spiked 35% in 2012 to 26,000 incidents. A number of salacious scandals cropped up, too: the Air Force officer in charge of sexual abuse prevention at the Pentagon was arrested in Arlington for allegedly groping a woman while he was drunk; a sergeant in charge of similar programs at Ft. Hood in Texas is being investigated for running a possible prostitution ring; and the Navy is looking into allegations that three football players at the Naval Academy assaulted a fellow, woman student.

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