A former top Pentagon official sexually harassed two female colleagues over seven years — subjecting them to unwanted attention, including photographing the buttocks of one woman and giving the other massages during “mentoring” sessions, according to a report released on Wednesday.
John James, who was executive director of the Missile Defense Agency, retired in February amid an investigation into his conduct, Military.com reported.
The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General substantiated complaints that James began harassing the women in 2012, a year after he arrived at the agency, it wrote in a report first obtained by USA Today.
James, who had a 37-year career at the DOD, got counseling for his sick behavior in 2017 — but the harassment continued into 2019, the inspector general found.
For seven years, James “repeatedly sought out and made deliberate, unwelcomed physical contact” with the first woman, according to the report.
“Mr. James told us that his contacts with (the woman) were part of a mentoring relationship,” the report said. “However, we found no evidence to support his assertion.”
At an agency event in 2014, James snapped a pic of the woman’s behind on her personal device as she walked to a food tent. She deleted it immediately after seeing it and reported it to her supervisor, though James denied taking the picture.
He also asked for her cellphone number, would shake her hand for uncomfortably long periods — which one witness described as “odd and creepy” — and in 2018, told her he had been “chasing her for seven years.”
The second woman was “an employee who Mr. James ‘mentored,’ by massaging her neck behind a closed door in his office on two occasions while making an inappropriate comment, ‘I love this,’ ” according to the report.
The woman broke up the relationship but didn’t report the gross conduct because she feared retaliation, the IG said. She eventually quit, in part over James’ actions.
James denied he had harassed anyone, blaming the complaints on a disgruntled employee passed over for promotion.
“There’s a modicum of truth in the interactions, but no intent for sexual harassment, or favors, or anything of that nature,” he told investigators.
The 25-page report, with testimony from 11 witnesses, was completed on July 13 and first obtained by USA Today under the Freedom of Information Act.
Since James is retired, the report was added to his personnel file, the IG concluded.
Trump intends to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg replacement
President Trump signaled his intention Saturday to move forward quickly with a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died after a long battle with cancer.
“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” Trump said in a tweet also tagging the official GOP account. “We have this obligation, without delay!”
Ginsburg’s Friday death touched off a firestorm from partisans on both sides, with Republican voters eager to see a conservative replacement.
Democrats, however have cried foul, citing Republican’s own precedent from 2016 that Supreme Court Justices should not be confirmed during an election year. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied a hearing on Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace conservative icon Antonin Scalia — who died in February 2016.
Other Senate Republicans have said they would honor it going forward.
“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election. And I’ve got a pretty good chance of being the Judiciary [chairman]. Hold the tape,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said during an interview at the Atlantic Festival in 2018.
McConnell — whose Senate majority has confirmed a record number of judges to the federal bench — has long insisted he would not let the precedent stop him from sending a nominee to the high court should there be an opening.
Just hours after her death, he confirmed his intention to move forward with a replacement.
“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said in a statement Friday. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Iran vows to ‘hit’ anyone who had role in Soleimani strike
Iran’s top military commander is vowing to take down anyone who took part in the US drone strike that killed one of his top generals.
Gen. Hossein Salami made the promise Saturday on the website of his Revolutionary Guard: “Mr. Trump! Our revenge for martyrdom of our great general is obvious, serious and real,” the Associated Press reported.
The drone strike, conducted in January over Iraq, struck Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran retaliated just a short time later with a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq.
President Trump tweeted his own threat this week after a report that Iran is plotting to assassinate Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa: “If they hit us in any way, any form, written instructions already done we’re going to hit them 1000 times harder.”
Salami denied any plans to kill Marks but gave his assurance that Iran would avenge the general’s death.
“Do you think we hit a female ambassador in return to our martyred brother?” Salami said. “We will hit those who had direct and indirect roles. You should know that everybody who had role in the event will be hit, and this is a serious message. We do prove everything in practice.”
NYC proposal calls for serving booze at COVID quarantine hotels
It’s happy hour at the quarantine hotel!
A bizarre city proposal would serve up cocktails to alcoholic, COVID-positive guests who are quarantining at hotels on the taxpayer dime.
A top official at the city Health + Hospitals Corp. last month proposed serving booze to thirsty guests with substance issues because the agency was finding they were rejecting the free quarantine lodging where drugs and alcohol are off-limits.
“This is not the time to mandate sobriety or abruptly begin treatment of alcohol use disorder,” according to a copy of the plan seen by The Post.
The hotels were set up in April as places for COVID-positive or virus-exposed New Yorkers who couldn’t risk returning home or for recovering patients to isolate, to stop the spread of the deadly bug.
It was unclear how much or what kind of booze would be dispensed, and if the guests would access their alcohol through a lobby bar, room service or in-room mini-bars. It did mention that guests would be screened for issues like alcohol-induced seizures.
The plan was put together by Dr. Amanda Johnson, who heads the tracing and isolation operation for the city’s Test & Trace Corps, according to a source. Johnson appears in commercials that air frequently urging New Yorkers to get tested for the coronavirus.
But she apparently wanted to keep the cocktail plan quiet. Her proposal calls for avoiding “a mass media press release” to get the word out, and suggests directly informing health care centers and psychiatric programs instead.
The city is offering free stays at the LaGuardia Plaza hotel in Queens, and some 1,600 people have used the lodging.
The program is staffed with nurses, security guards, hall monitors, social workers and others.
But a guest, who an insider said was positive for both COVID-19 and HIV and had mental health issues, checked himself out earlier this month without telling anyone, leaving staffers to unsuccessfully try to track him down for days.
“We do not provide guests with alcohol at the hotel,” a Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said, but would not comment on whether the booze plan was still under consideration.
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