Report: Gen. Hyten’s Sexual Assault Accuser Has History of Unsubstantiated Claims

General John Hyten, the incoming commander of the United States Strategic Command, speaks to reporters following a change of command ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

An Army colonel who accused President Trump’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, of sexual assault has a history of making unsubstantiated claims against supervisors she claims slighted her, according to a recent report.

The Federalist reported Monday an Air Force investigation found no merit to “dozens” of other unsubstantiated claims made by Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser in the last couple of years levied against supervisors. The investigation reportedly also showed that colleagues of Spletstoser said she had “anger issues, bullied subordinates, and had an incredibly foul mouth.”

Spletstoser levied three dozen other claims against Hyten and other superiors after she was fired from U.S. Strategic Command for toxic leadership in 2018, where Hyten is currently commander, but she made unsubstantiated allegations previously as well, the Federalist reported.

After a good, but not great, performance review in 2007 that she believed had kept her from being selected for battalion command, Spletstoser appealed and claimed the man who gave her the review had sexually harassed her throughout her tour of duty in Iraq, the Federalist reported. She claimed that on the day she left Iraq, he gave her the choice of leaving on her scheduled flight or going back to his housing unit to “renegotiate her evaluation report by performing sexual favors.” Her commander denied the allegation.

She requested the Army to rescind her review, but the Army Suitability Review Board did not accept her request. She then appealed that ruling to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records, which denied her claim and said, “Applicant’s scorched earth attack on the [performance review], much of which is patently specious, undermines her overall credibility. Tellingly, applicant has proffered not a single statement from a third party supporting her version of events.”

Spletstoser was assigned to Stratcom as director of the Commander’s Action Group, which is the commander’s staff. She and Hyten got along very well, although her colleagues reportedly found her abrasive and difficult.

Hyten’s chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, initiated an inquiry into the workplace climate of Strategic Command in November 2017 in response to staff concerns about Spletstoser’s leadership style, according to the Federalist. That inquiry found that colleagues called Spletstoser “bipolar” and “toxic.”

That substantiated inquiry prompted a formal review. When Hyten reportedly told her a formal review would be initiated, Karbler said Spletstoser stood up and said, “I quit,” and began leaving the office. Karbler told her to return to her seat. He said she became upset and claimed she “hated Stratcom” and “was bored” there.

The investigation was completed in February 2018 and found that Spletstoser had “fostered a hostile work environment” and that her behavior negatively affected cooperation with other headquarters, according to the Federalist. It found she was a “toxic leader” with a “destructive leadership style,” and found that she had supported Hyten but at the expense of other staff.

The review recommended that she be removed and given executive coach training to improve her interpersonal skills. But when Karbler told her, she contacted Hyten and reportedly told him he “has 24 hours to right this wrong or she will kill herself and he could apologize to her at her funeral.” Others reportedly received emails they interpreted as evidence of Spletstoser’s intent to harm herself.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations tracked her down with her cell phone to her off-base apartment and could hear a woman’s voice inside, but there was no answer. The Omaha Police reportedly arrived and told her they would knock down her door if it wasn’t opened. An Omaha Police Department incident report reveals that she was taken into Emergency Protective Custody and transported to University of Nebraska Medical Center, according to the Federalist.

A Fox News reporter tweeted out a copy of the police report last week, after Spletstoser showed up to Hyten’s confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee and sat in the audience.

Spletstoser reportedly apologized to colleagues a few days later and said she had undisclosed traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and promised to get treatment and began preparing for retirement.

However, by June 2018, she decided to rescind her retirement and started making allegations against a variety of supervisors, according to the Federalist. She reportedly claimed that Karbler had retaliated against her for making protected communications and that Hyten had given her a negative review after she reported she had been bullied by a Navy admiral. By mid-August 2018, she had contacted Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and claimed she was a victim of a hostile workplace.

Spletstoser claimed in August 2018 to the Department of Defense Inspector General that Hyten had misused military aircraft for personal reasons, allowed his spouse to travel on military aircraft for inappropriate reasons, misused his protective detail, and misused his government cellphone. In October, she launched a new complaint that Hyten had inappropriately divulged classified information. In November, she alleged that Hyten had a poor emotional state and judgement and had cried uncontrollably in front of middle-school children.

The DOD IG found none of the claims to be credible or substantiated in its final report delivered on March 15, 2019. Trump nominated Hyten to be vice chairman on April 8, and the next week, Spletstoser claimed he had sexually assaulted her, beginning in early 2017. Those claims were unsubstantiated, too.

The investigation, by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, was exhaustive: 53 investigators interviewed 63 people in three countries and 14 states. They reviewed more than 196,000 emails, 4,000 pages of documents, 152 travel records, and phone records dating to 2015, and conducted forensic analysis.

As first reported by Breitbart News, Spletstoser had never mentioned any kind of sexual assault allegation against Hyten during the toxic leadership inquiry and investigation, which ran from November to February 2018. Spletstoser would later claim the assault began in January 2017 and lasted at least through December 2017 — which would have been concurrent with the informal toxic leadership inquiry and just before the formal investigation.

During the formal toxic leadership investigation, she sat for almost an hour with an investigator and a court reporter in January 2018 but never once mentioned the sexual assault allegations.

After Hyten was cleared of the sexual assault allegations in July, Spletstoser went to the media. She reiterated her most salacious claim to the New York Times that during a December 2017 work trip with Hyten, he had entered her hotel room, kissed her, pressed himself against her, and ejaculated on her clothing.

As also first reported by Breitbart News, an Army crime lab found there was no semen or DNA belonging to Hyten found on the pants she claimed to be wearing at the time.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved Hyten’s nomination to go forward in a 20-7 bipartisan vote.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee today voted, 20-7, to favorably report the nomination of General John E. Hyten to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” said a release from the committee.

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