SEPARATING THE SEXES
March 16, 1998
Although an Army jury cleared Sgt. Major Eugene McKinney of sexual misconduct charges, the recent spate of sexual harassment cases has prompted the defense secretary to order some changes in basic training programs. Following a background report, Margaret Warner and guests discuss the McKinney verdict and the possible impact of basic training changes.
PHIL PONCE: At the Pentagon this morning, Defense Secretary William Cohen announced some changes to basic training programs. His announcement comes in response to a spate of highly publicized sexual harassment cases in the military. The secretary ordered three principal changes: more female drill instructors for female recruits; higher physical fitness standards for both men and women; and making sure that male and female recruits are rigidly separated in their living quarters.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
March 16, 1998:
A discussion on sexual harassment cases in the military.
December 16, 1997:
A special commission suggests separating military training by gender.
September 11, 1997:
A report on the problem of sexual harassment in the U.S. Army.
May 22, 1997:
The U.S. Air Force grants a general discharge to First Lt. Kelly Flinn.
May 22, 1997:
Why should the U.S. Air Force care if Lt. Kelly Flinn had an affair with a married man?
April 30, 1997:
Should the military have gender integrated training?
April 29, 1997:
Staff Sergeant Delmar Simpson is found guilty of 18 counts of rape in a military trial.
November 8, 1996:
Army Secretary Togo West discusses incidents of sexual harassment in female U.S. Army recruits.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of military.
From Congressional Times Journal, a career overview of Sgt. Major Gene McKinney.
The defense secretary orders changes.
SEC. WILLIAM COHEN: I want to have 24-hour supervision to make sure that the focus of the trainees is upon becoming warriors capable of defending this country's national security interests. During that initial phase of their basic training their concentration must be on developing the skills necessary to achieve that status and not on any kind of social integration followings ours. So to the extent that it can be achieved within existing facilities, those facilities must contain the kind of restraint or barriers that will be, I think, necessary to provide that kind of separation.
REPORTER: But if you're trying to teach these young men and women to work together and fight together--
SEC. WILLIAM COHEN: They don't have to sleep together.
PHIL PONCE: The Secretary did not go as far as a special committee, headed by former Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, had recommended, separating male and female recruits at the smallest unit level. Mr. Cohen said he would look at this issue again in 30 days. The changes announced today are the latest Pentagon response to a series of sexual harassment cases, including criminal proceedings against 12 drill instructors at an at an advanced training center in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Sgt. Major Eugene McKinney is cleared of sex charges.
But in the most publicized sexual harassment case in the military--the trial of the army's top enlisted man--Sergeant Major Gene McKinney--the outcome was the Friday acquittal on eighteen charges of sexual misconduct. Those charges were based on the independent allegations of six different women, allegations that army prosecutors said showed a common pattern of behavior. But McKinney was convicted on only one count of obstruction of justice. At his morning news conference Secretary Cohen refused to comment on the McKinney case on the grounds it was still in the courts.
SEC. WILLIAM COHEN: I would say as a general rule you have heard me stand here before and tell you in as strong a terms I can express we will not tolerate any sort of bias, harassment, physical abuse, racial abuse, sexual abuse on the part of any in the military. To the extent that there are examples of this taking place and there's evidence of this taking place it will be properly investigated and prosecuted. And that's a message that should go out to male and female.
PHIL PONCE: And this afternoon, the same jury that acquitted McKinney on the sex charges issued its sentence on the obstruction charge, a reprimand, a reduction in rank, but no jail time.
CHARLES GITTINS, McKinney's Lawyer: We demonstrated that, I believe, conclusively to the members that the women were liars, cheats, and frauds. We proved it. The members accepted it. And they rejected the women's claims. We were left with an obstruction of justice, which the government essentially manufactured. It doesn't say much for the army.
REPORTER: If you were a woman today, would you join the army?
CHARLES GITTINS: I don't see why not. Look, women who believe they've been wronged need to go to their chain of command. That's why the chain of command exists. These women waited for years until the government made them promises, granted them immunity. If you've got a complaint, take it to your chain of command. That's what women in the military need to do, just like men need to do that.
PHIL PONCE: Gittins announced he was filing a $1 1/2 million libel suit against one of the accusers and appealing the conviction on the obstruction charge.