ADN weighs in on Parnell Sex Abuse Scandal

May 4, 2014

It is important that we, as voters, get the information we need to decide the kind of man we want as our next governor.  From my point of view, character counts (see LeadDog article Pick A Team).

For my friends without access to the Anchorage Daily News, I’ve posted today’s ADN opinion of Governor Parnell’s handling of sexual abuse reports within the National Guard.


LeadDog Alaska

“Our View: Governor failed to lead on Guard reports

No respect

Governor failed to pursue serious Guard allegations

Gov. Sean Parnell’s response to reports of his failure to act on warnings about sexual assault and corruption in the Alaska National Guard was as weak as his response to the warnings themselves.

Parnell said he didn’t have enough information to act until earlier this year.

That’s about as disingenuous as it gets.

If Parnell didn’t have enough information, it’s because he didn’t seek the information.

Three chaplains — a major and a two lieutenant colonels — took the risk of jumping the chain of command after hearing from alleged victims of sexual assault. They jumped the chain because they believed the victims were being further victimized by that very chain of command, that not only were their cases not being investigated, they were being covered up. They warned Parnell about the actions of senior officers in the Guard. This was in the fall of 2010.

Over the next three years, Parnell had further warnings — in a letter from guardsmen calling for the resignation of Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, in further meetings with the chaplains and Col. Robert Doehl of the Guard, and in meetings with state Sen. Fred Dyson.

Parnell’s response, by his own account: “I made sure through Gen. Katkus that Guard members have a safe route to report sexual misconduct, and that their allegations are taken seriously and investigated to conclusion, including appropriate penalties.”

In short, the governor let himself be assured by the same command that the chaplains and others were warning him about.

Serious people with responsible roles both in and out of the Alaska National Guard had taken extraordinary steps to talk to the governor because they felt they could not trust the chain of command in the Alaska National Guard. Yet Parnell — governor and commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard — took a passive role.

With that, “Choose Respect” became two empty words — or a cruel joke.

The governor’s claim that he wrote to the National Guard Bureau for an investigation in February 2014 because of what he’d “recently” learned doesn’t wash.

He had sufficient cause from 2010 on to do what he should have done — order an independent investigation into the complaints of the chaplains and others. With that order should have come another — all Guard members are to cooperate fully with the independent investigation.

He should have made clear that all judgments would be reserved until the investigation was complete. But any Guard member found in due process to have either obstructed an investigation, covered up wrongdoing or violated any sexual conduct law would be out of the Guard, out of his administration and subject to criminal prosecution where warranted.

That would have given substance to “Choose Respect.” That would have sent a heartening message to Alaskans, especially to victims of assault and abuse, that the governor is truly on their side — that no one in Alaska, no matter what their position, can get away with sexual assault or violence, or covering for anyone who commits such acts.

That’s not what the governor did. Instead of choosing respect, he chose not to act.

BOTTOM LINE: Governor fails to lead, fails to choose respect.”

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