Retired Army general charged with illicit conduct and lying Case involves having sex with officers' spouses

court-martial possible

December 11, 1998|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- A retired Army general has been charged with having sex with the wives of four subordinate officers, lying about it and obstructing justice by telling one of the women he would testify against her in a child custody suit if she revealed their affair, Army officials said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. David R. E. Hale, 53, who retired amid the allegations in February as the Army's deputy inspector general, now faces the military's equivalent of a grand jury. He could become the first senior military officer in more than 40 years to be called back from retirement for a court-martial.

Hale, a West Point graduate who won a Purple Heart for wartime wounds in Vietnam, faces six charges of making false official statements, nine charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and two charges of obstruction of justice dating from 1994, when he was stationed in Hawaii and later served as the top U.S. officer at a NATO base in Izmir, Turkey.

If convicted on all charges, Hale would face up to 56 years confinement in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., dismissal and total forfeiture of pay and allowances. As a retired major general, Hale draws $6,250 per month, three-quarters of his active-duty salary, the Army said.

The charges were filed at Fort Lewis, Wash., where an Article 32 hearing -- the equivalent of a grand jury -- will determine whether the charges merit a military trial, or court-martial. That hearing could begin within a month and last roughly a week, said Army officials.

Based on the recommendation of a hearing officer, Lt. Gen. George A. Crocker, commander of I Corps at Fort Lewis, would then determine whether a court-martial or other disciplinary action is warranted.

Neither Hale nor his attorney, Army Lt. Col. William Kilgallin, could be reached for comment yesterday. In the summer, the general denied any inappropriate conduct to Pentagon investigators.

The serious charges against Hale have proved an embarrassment for the Army, particularly Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, the chief of staff, who approved Hale's retirement in February despite a month-old Army investigation precipitated by one of the women who allegedly had an affair with Hale.

The decision led to complaints of a double standard: Alleged wrongdoing by general officers is handled less harshly than that by more junior soldiers. At the time, Hale was the second-highest officer officer responsible for investigating Army improprieties, including misconduct by generals.

Army officials said investigators told Reimer at the time they were unaware of any substantial allegations that would preclude retirement. And they noted that, despite stepping down, Hale could still face disciplinary action. Yesterday, Reimer defended his action. "Given what I knew at that point in time, I think the decision was a solid decision," he said.

During the summer, the Army tightened regulations for approving the retirement of senior officers. If allegations arise against general officers at the time of retirement, there will be a formal review by several Army officials. Further, the Army secretary, rather than the chief of staff, will approve retirements.

The Hale investigation began after Donnamaria Carpano told the Washington Times in March that the general pressured her into a sexual relationship while in Turkey. At the time, she was married to Hale's subordinate, an Army colonel she later divorced.

The Pentagon's inspector general accused Hale in the summer of "inappropriate relationships" with the four women as well as travel reimbursement fraud and lying to investigators. The Army then conducted two other investigations leading to yesterday's charges.

Charged with what the military calls "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," Hale is accused of having an improper three-year relationship with the wife of a subordinate officer at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, beginning in 1994, while he served as deputy commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific. Later, stationed in Turkey as deputy commander of allied land forces in Southeastern Europe, beginning in 1996, Hale allegedly conducted improper relationships with the wives of three other subordinate officers.

In addition, Hale allegedly advised one of those officers to accept unfavorable terms in a divorce action.

Besides obstructing justice by threatening to testify against one of the women in a child custody suit in Washington, Hale also told a federal employee to delete computer files relevant to the investigation, the Army said.

Hale is also accused of making six false statements, including lying to the Army inspector general.

The last retired senior officer to face a court-martial was Rear Adm. Seldon Hooper, who was charged in 1957 with conduct unbecoming an officer, sodomy and indecent acts. He was convicted and sentenced to dismissal and forfeiture of pay.

Pub Date: 12/11/98

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