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Army general demoted for sexual misconduct

November 17, 1999
Web posted at: 3:11 p.m. EST (2011 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Army on Tuesday demoted a two-star general to colonel and fined him a month's pay ($8,632) for engaging in improper sexual relationships with the wives of two officers under his command over a seven year period, officials said.

the U.S. military

Maj. Gen. John Maher will retire at the lower rank and lose up to $975,000 in retirement benefits because of the demotion.

Maher, who until recently was the vice director of operation for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was found guilty of the offenses at an administrative hearing known as an "Article 15."

'Conduct unbecoming an officer'

The formal charges against him included "conduct unbecoming an officer" for having improper sexual relationships with the wives of two subordinate soldiers, and "attempting to engage in conduct unbecoming an officer," for attempting to have an improper relationship with an enlisted soldier.

The case is in some respects similar to that of another two-star general, Maj. Gen. David Hale, who was allowed to retire quietly early last year despite allegations that he had sex with the wife of a subordinate while he was a top NATO commander in southern Europe and had improper relationships with three other wives.

Hale was court-martialed earlier this year, pleaded guilty to seven counts and was demoted one rank to brigadier general.

Army officials say the rank at which one is retired is an administrative action that is governed by the rank at which it is determined one last served satisfactorily.

In the case of Maher, his sexual misconduct took place over a longer time, and colonel was the last rank at which he was deemed to have served satisfactorily.

In contrast to the Hale case, the Army said there was no evidence that Maher coerced the women into having improper sexual relationships.

Request for retirement denied

Army officials say Maher requested retirement in September and was denied because he was under investigation for sexual misconduct.

After the Hale case, the rules were changed to bar retirements while officers were under investigation. "We learned some lessons," said one Army official.

The case comes on the heels of a high-profile investigation of possible sexual misconduct by the Army's top enlisted man in Europe.

Command Sgt. Maj. Riley Miller faces charges of kidnapping, forcible sodomy and other related offenses for allegedly assaulting a female subordinate during a trip to the German town of Hanu last April, Army officials told CNN last month.

Miller, a 30-year veteran, is in one of the noncommissioned corps' most prestigious positions.

He faces a possible court-martial and prison term if convicted of the offenses.

Army's top enlisted man in Europe faces kidnapping, sodomy charges
October 23, 1999
Retired general may now face reduced rank in sex case
July 14, 1999
Star soldier warning women away from Army duty
February 6, 1997

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