Following Report of Sexual Harassment by DOD Employee, Ernst Demands Answers from the Pentagon

The Iowa senator is also calling on Congress to pass her bill to ‘kick creeps’ – like this pentagon official – out of the federal workplace

WASHINGTON – 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.

Background:

Senator Ernst has long fought to address and combat sexual violence, including working on legislation to improve reporting and data collection methods on incidents occurring in the military and the federal government.

Ernst’s Compulsory Requirement to Eliminate Employees who are Perpetrators of Sexual assault (CREEPS) Act gives federal agencies and other entities employing personnel for the federal government the authority to remove an employee convicted of sexual assault or found to have committed such an offense by an administrative body while employed by the federal government. It provides that such an individual is first given an opportunity for a hearing.

The bill also prohibits an employee of a federal agency or contractor from receiving a raise, bonus, or promotion for a period of five years after they are convicted by a court or found guilty by an administrative board of committing sexual assault. It requires that any contractor working with the federal government have mirroring policies in place.

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