Army Colonel Kathryn A. Spletstoser has accused Air Force General John E. Hyten—Trump’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—of sexual assault.
According to Spletstoser’s account in the New York Times, Hyten repeatedly “tried to kiss her, hug her and touch her inappropriately while in her office or on trips” over the course 2017 while he was her boss. That behavior allegedly culminated one night in December of that year, when Hyten knocked on Spletstoser’s hotel room door following a day at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California:
According to her account, General Hyten reached for her hand. She became alarmed, and stood back up. He stood up too, she said, and pulled her to him and kissed her on the lips while pressing himself against her, then ejaculated, getting semen on his sweatpants and on her yoga pants.
If Hyten is confirmed by the Senate, he will become the country’s second most powerful military officer. Both he and Spletstoser testified this week before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which decided to advance his nomination. However, conflicts of interest within the military convoluted the early stages of the investigation, with the task initially assigned to someone who is technically beneath Hyten in rank. Such lapses, wrote Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth in a letter, are inexcusable:
“The severity of the allegations and the sensitivity and seniority of General Hyten’s billet demand that a senior officeholder—not a peer, and certainly not a peer who is junior in grade to General Hyten—should be the convening authority,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Ms. Duckworth wrote in a June 25 letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Spletstoser had previously spoken anonymously with the Associated Press, detailing several instances in 2017 that happened either at her office or on work trips when they were both working at U.S. Strategic Command.
After the December incident in the hotel, Spletstoser said that Hyten disappeared into the bathroom for several minutes. When he returned, he asked if she planned to report him.
“I was distraught,” she said. But “who was I going to report it to? Secretary Mattis? Really? All I was trying to do was just survive and not have my life ruined.”
Hyten has denied the allegations.
Read the full story in the Times here.