A general whose office oversaw sexual assault prevention efforts for the Marine Corps has been suspended after mocking allegations of sexual harassment under his watch as “fake news” at a recent town hall, and publicly joking about a Navy chaplain who was recently fired for having videotaped sex in a bar.
Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein, the director of Marine and Family Programs, which oversees sexual assault prevention efforts, was placed on leave after the Naval Criminal Investigative Service received an anonymous complaint about his comments at a town hall at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA, on April 6.
“As a Corps we are committed to fully investigating and holding ourselves accountable when those allegations are shown to be true,” the Corps said in a statement Wednesday. “Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that their Marines and civilian employees believe they will be taken seriously if they come forward with allegations of misconduct of any kind.”
The allegations Stein called “fake news” referred to claims made by two civilian officials that a Marine officer showed them his erection while clothed on five different occasions, USA Today reported. Those claims were found unsubstantiated, but the Marine Corps’ Commandant Gen. Robert Neller reopened the investigation in March because the two women felt their case was inappropriately handled, according to USA Today.
Rep. Jackie Speier of California, a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, told USA Today that Stein no longer belonged in the Marine Corps if the report was accurate..
“If these allegations are true, Gen. Stein has no business serving in the Marine Corps,” Speier said. “Leaders must be held to the highest standard if the Corps expects the rank and file to live up to its core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”
The most male-dominant branch of the military, the Marines have struggled to curb sexual misconduct and harassment in their ranks in recent years, but a new push to bring awareness to the issue has led to high-profile reprimands. Just last month, Navy chaplain Capt. Loften Thornton was fired for a video purportedly showing him having sex with a woman at a pub in New Orleans. And in February, Gen. Neller suspended his top adviser over allegations he created a hostile work environment.
Cover image: U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Kurt W. Stein, Director of Marine and Family Programs, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, stands at attention alongside Captain Shaun R. Locklear, Inspector – Instructor of Military Police Support Company, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion during Silver Star Award ceremony in honor of Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline on Marine Corps League Detachment 1419, Mandan, North Dakota, Nov 1, 2017. Lance Cpl. Cline was awarded the Silver Star posthumously; upgraded from Bronze Star with Valor for his act of gallantry against an enemy of the United States. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Ricardo R. Davila/Released)