OSI found no proof of ‘unprofessional relationship’ in Hyten sexual assault investigation; polygraph was inconclusive
The Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations was unable to corroborate allegations of sexual assault and an unprofessional relationship between Gen. John Hyten, President Trump’s choice to be the number two uniformed official in the military, and an Army colonel who worked for hiim.
The Air Force on Friday released OSI’s report, dated June 23, into Hyten, who is head of U.S. Strategic Command and was nominated to be vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in April. Shortly afterward, a subordinate raised accusations of sexual assault against Hyten. The Air Force launched an investigation, which involved interviewing 53 witnesses across three countries and 13 states, but found no proof of wrongdoing.
Hyten also took a polygraph, the summary of the investigation said, but the results were said to be inconclusive, which frustrated Hyten. Through his counsel, Hyten refused to discuss the polygraph in a second interview with investigators, or in a written statement.
Hyten’s accuser, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, alleged Hyten behaved inappropriately toward her and touched her against her wishes multiple times, including non-consensual kissing, between February 2017 and February 2018, the report said.
In the summary of the investigation, OSI said Spletstoser interacted with Hyten daily in her orle as director of his Commander’s Action Group, and traveled with him regularly on official trips.
The first time Hyten allegedly touched her inappropriately was in February 2017 in Palo Alto, California, Spletstoser said. While they were alone in Hyten’s room, she said he grabbed her left hand and pulled it to his groin.
The alleged inappropriate behavior continued on several separate official trips that followed, Spletsotser said. Hyten allegedly called her to his hotel room and tried to kiss her on one occasion. During another trip, he stood over her shoulder while on going over staff work in his hotel room, put his arms around her and touching her breasts, then turned her around and started to kiss her on her lips.
Spletstoser accused Hyten of knocking on her hotel room door while at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi, California, after everyone else had gone to bed, in December 2017. She told investigators that he entered uninvited after she answered the door.
Hyten then pulled Spletstoser to her while in her room, held her tight against him, and after about a minute, ejaculated in his gym shorts, she alleged.
However, while Spletstoser told investigators that interviews with STRATCOM staff members and a review of Hyten’s electronic communications would corroborate her allegations of an unprofessional relationship, investigators were unable to find any such indication, either through interviews or electronically.
Spletstoser went public in a series of interviews last month following the Air Force’s defense of Hyten.
“You just had a four-star general get up in front of the American people and in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and make false statements under oath,” she said, following a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee. “He lied. He lied about sexually assaulting me.”
After several delays and private briefings with both Hyten and Spletstoser, members of the SASC held a nomination hearing for Hyten in late July, before clearing his nomination in a 20-7 vote. The lone republican to vote against him, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, appears to have done so not because of the sexual assault claim, but because of how Hyten allowed a bad leadership climate to fester at STRATCOM.
“I have no concerns (about Hyten) at all,” SASC chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe told reporters after the committee vote. “You’re talking about five classified briefings, where every member had every chance to ask every question.”
Military Times reporter Leo Shane III and Defense News reporters Joe Gould and Valerie Insinna contributed to this report. This story will be updated.