CBSN

Accused General Seeks Retirement

general smith
AP
The two-star general accused of sexually harassing the Army's highest-ranking woman has asked to retire, officials said Friday. The move apparently closes a case that drew widespread attention and had already cost Maj. Gen. Larry Smith an appointment to be the Army's deputy inspector general.

Smith has submitted his request to retire Sept. 1, Army spokesman Col. Edwin Veiga said. Officials said it was likely the request would be approved.

In a brief written statement issued on his behalf by the Army public affairs office, Smith denied he had committed any offense.

“However, for the good of my family and the Army, we have elected to put it behind us and move on with our lives,” he said in his first public statement on the issue. He made no explicit mention of the alleged offense nor his intention to retire.

His accuser, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, said, “I am satisfied with the Army's action in this case. As far as I am concerned, this matter is closed.”

The Army's announcement marked the first time it has publicly acknowledged that Kennedy had made an accusation and that Smith was the accused officer. Officials in May had privately acknowledged that Army inspector general Lt. Gen. Michael Ackerman had substantiated Kennedy's allegation, but no details were offered.

Smith, who began his Army career in 1966 as a second lieutenant and served three tours of duty in Vietnam, challenged the inspector general's findings, but the Army decided to stand by the inspector general's conclusion.

In a statement announcing the outcome, the Army said Smith had been given an administrative memorandum of reprimand on Wednesday by Gen. John Keane, the vice chief of staff who reviewed the inspector general's finding.

The Army saw no basis for a criminal proceeding.

In her remarks at the June retirement ceremony, Kennedy said she had more than fulfilled the aspirations she held when she was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 2, 1969 at a time when women served in a separate Women's Army Corps.

“I've risen further than I ever dared to hope,” she said.

Kennedy had served since May 1997 as the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence. With her departure, the Army has no three-star female generals.

She noted that since she entered the Army, thousands of positions once held exclusively by men have been opened to women, and she said of the Army's male-dominated culture: “It is responsive, it is changing, and it is highly accountable.”

“The change has been measured and steady,” she said. “But all of this occurs within the context of societal change. The position of women in politics, sports, religion, academia and corporate America is expanding. I am proud to have been the first woman in the Army to have achieved lieutenant general, and I know I will not be the last.”

Although she has left her Pentagn post, Kennedy's official retirement date is Aug. 1. Her departure plans were set before her sexual harassment case became public in March.

By Robert Burns