When she learned that four-star General John Hyten was up for Donald Trump’s Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and second-highest-ranking officer, full bird Colonel Kathy Spletstoser filed a complaint against him for sexual assault. He had a complaint of his own.
Kathy Spletstoser loved the military:
‘More than any place, the battlefield made sense to her.’
Sides are clear. There are rules of engagement. Frissons of energy coursed through her, along with a sense of purpose.
‘The funnest times I’ve had in my life have been in war. When it’s at its best, it’s very good.’
She served four tours of combat duty starting in the early 2000s. Two of them were in Afghanistan, and the other two were in Iraq.
When she was right outside of Kandahar Afghanistan, the vehicle she was in flipped. As a result she received a “severe concussion” and “mild traumatic brain injury.”
‘My reputation is definitely as a transformer, a fixer, a results-driven person. Now, that’s good and bad. You love that or hate that. That can rub people the wrong way.’
She was assigned to the Offutt Airforce Base in Nebraska under the Commander’s Action Group in 2016. The US Strategic Command takes care of the nuclear arsenal located there. In under a year, a new boss came in. She was 27-years-old:
‘Her boss wasHarvard-educated, four-star general, John E. Hyten, who’d made a name for himself in the Air Force’s space operations. Spletstoser was leery. She considered him a “desk jockey” with expertise in acquisitions and space but none of the on-the-ground war-fighting experience she had.’
Hyten held a staff meeting in his hotel room during temporary assignment. He dismissed the other staffers then put her hand on his crotch. She indicated:
‘[She indicated I] could feel his erect penis through his uniform pants.’
Her job required many trips from Seoul, South Korea to Washington DC. On one trip, he called her to his hotel room for what she thought was a meeting. While trying to maintain her career, she did not know what to do. Challenging this four-star general was out of the ordinary:
‘[He tried to kiss her and grabbed her breasts.] I was confused by his behavior. It was just a horrible, horrible feeling. I fear no man in battle. The reality is they (four-star generals) have as much power as God.’
He spoke about her promotion potential to others within her earshot. When they were in Simi Valley, California. He knocked on her door:
‘Once inside, he pulled her toward him so she couldn’t move and groped her, she says in her lawsuit. He told her something like, “I want to make love to you.”’
That time he rubbed against her until he ejaculated. She pulled away from him. He asked if she was going to report him, but what could she do? Retaliation was a very possible reality.
Even so, a month after she rebuffed his advances, there was an internal investigation into her conducted by a general who reported to Hyten. She was found to be a “toxic” leader who “bullied” subordinates. The report said that she was also an “insensitive driven achiever” and “toxic self-centered abuser.’
During his confirmation process for another military veteran Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) said:
‘[He failed to] counsel Spletstoser about alleged complaints regarding her behavior and did nothing about them until questions about his own leadership were being raised. Ernst, the only GOP senator to vote against his confirmation, also noted that the investigation was not completed by an independent entity outside his chain of command.’
Spletstoser sued him. She said:
‘[My lawsuit is] about equal justice under the law. Military members must be afforded equal opportunity in our judicial system, which they currently don’t have. I want him to be held accountable for what he did.’
Her brother is a federal law enforcement officer in the Midwest. He told her:
‘You’re fighting Goliath.’
Spletstoser requested a military protective order against Hyten. She said she felt threatened. Six days after the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed him, the order was lifted.
Two months later, she left the Army.
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