Today's Army: Commander Suspended for Alleged Insensitivity
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A Fort Carson commander who wasn't allowed to leave for Afghanistan with his troops last month was suspended over allegations that he was insensitive to victims of sexual assault and discrimination, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The details were reported in The Gazette (http://bit.ly/1k3YHKd) based on a 361-page investigative report it obtained under the Federal Freedom of Information Act.
It provided the first account the Army has released about the suspension of Col. Brian Pearl and offers a view into how sensitive the issue of sexual assault has become for the Army.
It says Pearl was suspended after three officers alleged he made insensitive comments during a Feb. 18 meeting of female soldiers that he convened to discuss sexual assault policies after the unit received 27 reports of sexual harassment or assault in a year.
Three female officers alleged he was insensitive, including a captain who called for Pearl, a 25-year veteran, to be relieved of his duty, the newspaper said.
The soldiers who made the allegations against Pearl said he spoke against restricted sexual assault reports, which allow victims to seek counseling anonymously without forcing them to pursue criminal charges.
The names of those interviewed were redacted from the report.
"The pressure to file unrestricted reports places pressure for a victim to waive their rights," wrote the captain who made the initial report. "Col. Pearl failed to understand that it is a personal and private decision."
Fort Carson previously has said only that Pearl was suspended while being investigated for possible Army policy violations. It's not clear exactly how long he was suspended. The complaint against him was made on Feb. 26 and Fort Carson announced March 11 that he was cleared, allowing him to join the 4th Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan.
He couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Pearl told investigators that he was neutral on what kind of reporting victims should use.
"If my comments were construed as preference for unrestricted reporting, they were not," he wrote in a statement to investigators, the newspaper said. "I did, however, explain that one of the differences between unrestricted and restricted is command involvement."
The investigator, a colonel brought in from Fort Hood, interviewed 39 witnesses and found the majority supported Pearl. The investigator's name also was not included in the report.
"I felt like Col. Pearl wanted females to know their options and that he would do what he could to make sure it stopped," a specialist wrote.
Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com