Investigation by Veterans Affairs finds 'conduct unbecoming' but no evidence of sexual misconduct

"The evidence revealed by the first investigation supported a finding of conduct unbecoming but did not support that the subject engaged in sexual harassment of the staff-level employee."

Updated: November 21, 2022 - 5:58pm

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The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on Monday detailing two investigations surrounding a special agent accused of inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment, with mixed findings.  

OIG disciplinary officials determined the special agent in charge engaged in "conduct unbecoming" and should be removed from federal service. The special agent in charge retired during the 30-day advance notice period that is required before completing a removal action. It was also alleged that two leaders in the department knew about the sexual harassment or misconduct and said nothing about it, resulting in a hostile work environment. 

But the report states that the evidence did not support a charge of sexual harassment, failure to act by senior leaders, or a hostile work environment.

"The evidence revealed by the first investigation supported a finding of conduct unbecoming but did not support that the subject engaged in sexual harassment of the staff-level employee. Nor did the evidence reveal any continued misconduct after the investigation began," the report reads. 

According to the report, flirting did occur between the former agent and another department member, but it did not create a "hostile work environment."

"While the staff-level employee denied interest in a romantic relationship with the subject, evidence uncovered during the investigation supported the subject's contention that the two "flirted with one another," the report continued. "Although the allegations considered during this first investigation were serious (as were those in the second investigation below), neither investigation revealed evidence reflecting a hostile work environment by sexual harassment, which requires, among other evidence, a showing that the harassment was so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment."

The Department of Veterans Affairs said in their report that all OIG employees are required by law to complete harassment prevention and accountability training annually and they are committed to creating a safe work environment for all. 

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