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Following a report that a Department of Defense (DOD) employee had a history of sexually harassing women, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a champion for sexual assault survivors, is calling on the Pentagon for answers. Ernst is also calling on the Senate to pass her legislation that would ensure federal employees and contractors who are convicted of sexual assault face serious consequences for their actions, including termination.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Ernst writes: “I am writing to you regarding the stunning announcement by the Department of Defense Inspector General that a senior civilian official recently retired before he could be disciplined for sexually harassing his employees for a period of seven years…The Department of Defense’s failure to hold this senior official responsible raises serious doubts as to the commitment of the senior leadership to stop sexual assault and harassment in the workplace and furthers the distrust that laws and policies regarding sexual harassment simply do not apply to senior leaders of the military.”

Specifically, Ernst demands the Pentagon provider her with the following information:

  • The full and unredacted report findings by the DOD Inspector General;
  • Any actions taken by the Department of Defense in response to employee complaints about this persistent sexual harassment;
  • A summary of promotions, awards, or performance incentives this employee received during this time period and the senior officials who approved them, and;
  • The sexual assault policies and training standards for all employees in the agencies within the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering and whether this employee completed required training regarding sexual harassment.