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Report: General in sex case loses new appointment

The Army has rescinded the new appointment of Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith in the wake of accusations by the Army's highest-ranking woman that he made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 1996, officials told the New York Times on Monday.

Smith's appointment as the Army's deputy inspector general, a position in which he would have been responsible for investigating accusations of wrongdoing against senior officers, has been delayed since the officer, Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, made her accusations in September.

The Army made no announcement withdrawing his name, but last Friday the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, appointed another two-star general to take over the position, which has been filled temporarily by a brigadier general for nearly eight months.

With the withdrawal of his appointment, Smith's military career, which began in 1966 and included three tours in Vietnam, appears all but over.

The Army's decision to replace Smith, however, came before the formal investigation of the general has been completed.

This month, Army investigators told Army leaders that they had substantiated Kennedy's accusation that Smith touched her in an inappropriate way and tried to kiss her at the end of a meeting in her office at the Pentagon, the Times reported.

But Smith, who is said to have denied making a sexual advance, has the right to challenge their findings, and Army officials have indicated that he plans to do so. Smith has not publicly discussed the investigation and did not respond to a request for comment.

Army officials have said that the accusations, if proved, do not rise to the level of criminal conduct punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Even if he is ultimately exonerated, it is not clear that Smith would have a position to move into, the officials said.

Army officials made the decision to find another officer to fill the deputy inspector general's position months ago, the officials told the Times. They said Army leaders realized that Smith's appointment could not go forward given the publicity created by Kennedy's accusations.

One official insisted that the appointment of the officer, Maj. Gen. Joseph Inge, was not directly related to the ongoing investigation, emphasizing that the Army had not yet decided on what punishment, if any, Smith faced.

For the last two years, Inge has served as commander of the Army's 9th Theater Support Command, based in Japan. Since the appointment does not include a promotion in rank, it does not require Senate confirmation.

The announcement, made when Shinseki's office released a list of new appointments, did not specify when Inge would start. But officials said the officer who has temporarily filled the job, Brig. Gen. Daniel Doherty, planned to retire soon.