(WASHINGTON) — The United States Army has reprimanded multiple soldiers following a months-long investigation into allegations that leaders of an Illinois-based reserve unit improperly handled reports of sexual harassment and assault.
The Army opened a probe into the 416th Theater Engineer Command in January 2020 at the request of Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth after it was reported that commanders had brushed aside sexual assault complaints within the unit and retaliated against a whistleblower. The findings from that investigation were released publicly Tuesday in a redacted version of the report, which determined that the unit’s former leader, Maj. Gen. Miyako Schanely, had failed to properly implement the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program.
Schanely was suspended last year as part of the probe. Army officials said Tuesday that Schanely has relinquished her command.
Two more senior leaders have faced administrative action for their performance failures, though Army officials did not reveal their names, ranks or positions. Administrative action was also taken against 12 other soldiers, whose identities were not disclosed, “based on adverse findings in this case,” according to Army officials. Actions against three unidentified civilian employees were still pending.
“To protect the privacy of the individuals involved, no additional details about these actions will be released,” Army officials said in a statement Tuesday.
The investigation found that various individuals within the 416th mishandled reports of sexual assault and harassment and that the unit had challenges in resourcing and properly complying with the SHARP program’s regulatory requirements for several years. The report also identified staffing gaps in the program along with annual training requirements going unmonitored. The review found issues with the procedures used to hire civilian SHARP program personnel as well as their credentialing, training, supervision, abilities and individual performances.
According to the report, Schanely failed to publish an updated SHARP policy for the 416th for more than two years, did not conduct a sexual assault review board for 15 months, left a sexual assault response coordinator position and victim advocate position vacant for months and failed to initiate or complete a survey of the unit’s command climate.
The report recommended installing a permanent legal advisor and SHARP program manager at the 416th, as well as considering better standards for educating commanders and hiring civilian staff.
Army officials said the reserve force has immediately taken steps in response to the recommendations, including remedying the SHARP program staffing challenges and training reserve personnel to better recognize and take appropriate action to address reports of sexual assault and harassment.
In a joint statement Tuesday, Durbin and Duckworth said the sexual misconduct and pervasive problems that led to the mishandling of cases at the 416th in Darien, Illinois, were “unacceptable.”
“The Army Reserve’s completed investigation makes clear the Army is working to improve how it handles allegations of sexual assault, but more must be done,” the Democratic senators said. “In Congress, we will continue to support programs that improve the military justice system, increase training for command leaders, and offer support for sexual assault and harassment survivors. Servicemembers cannot be silenced or abandoned for seeking justice and accountability.”
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