WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.
Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.
One woman told investigators that shortly after she began working for Roberts, he routinely greeted her by hugging and kissing her and would “press his crotch and chest against her in an attempt to have full body contact.” She showed investigators how she tried to squirm out of his unwanted embraces.
Roberts, in a written response, refuted the allegations.
“I am surprised and dismayed by the conclusions contained in the report,” Roberts wrote. “Specifically, that I sexually harassed and inappropriately touched the three employees and others.”
Roberts acknowledged telling inappropriate jokes but said he had done so for decades and relied on his staff to keep him in line.
“I have been telling those jokes and funny incidents for over 30 years to audiences large and small,” Roberts wrote. “In today’s work place the fact that any one person would feel uncomfortable is enough to stop telling those kinds of jokes and I failed to appreciate that fact.”
Among the inspector general’s findings:
- Roberts frequently hugged the women, touched them, and made sexual comments. Roberts made jokes that many found inappropriate and offensive and which caused employees to feel uncomfortable.
- Roberts treated women on his staff differently than men and made deliberate, unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature by hugging, kissing, or touching the three women.
- Roberts’ physical contact and statements caused the three women to fear damage to their professional reputations.
The first woman, a part-time employee, told investigators she changed the way she dressed and sought to avoid Roberts’ attention.
“She stated: ‘I just, I wanted him to stop paying attention to me, and I wanted him to think I wasn’t attractive. I mean I consciously thought about what I was wearing and how I was behaving. It was awful. I mean it was bad. It was really uncomfortable,'” the report notes.