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Army general loses star, retires over sexual misconduct complaint he disputes

A former brigadier general who was up for a second star intends to fight a demotion to colonel that finalized this summer over allegations of sexual misconduct from a subordinate enlisted soldier.

Brig. Gen. David Hamilton was relieved from his position as director of operations for NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in September and reassigned to the Pentagon while awaiting the Army’s final decision. Hamilton eventually retired this summer at the rank of colonel.

“Under federal law, officers retire at the highest grade in which they have served satisfactorily,” said Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith in a statement. “The Secretary of the Army, who makes retirement grade determinations for all brigadier generals and major generals, determined that Hamilton’s highest grade of satisfactory service was as a colonel.”

The reason for the dismissal was not explained by service spokespeople when it occurred last September.

But a June 11 Army CID law enforcement report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in August accused Hamilton of two offenses: abusive sexual contact, Article 120 of the UCMJ, and maltreatment, Article 93.

The report said Hamilton “grabbed and tapped [the] buttocks” of a female soldier “without her consent” during temporary duty travel to Fort Hood, Texas, after dinner in the town of Killeen on April 10, 2019. The incident was reported on April 14, 2019.

The document also said Hamilton admitted he touched her inappropriately the day after the incident. The majority of the report’s pages, including witness statements, were withheld during the FOIA process.

Hamilton denied both accusations through his attorney, Franklin Rosenblatt, who provided a sworn statement the general made to investigators. In it, Hamilton wrote that he rubbed the female soldier’s back for about three seconds above the waist and over the shirt after she had dry-heaved during a walk back to their hotel following their trip’s final dinner.

The mood during the walk was mostly “light” and “humorous,” but the female soldier had complained about feeling sick and was walking a little slower than the rest of the group, Hamilton wrote. There were no other noteworthy events, he added, but the next day, the female soldier was visibly less comfortable around him than normal.

Hamilton acknowledged in the sworn statement that he discussed with the female soldier how the touch might have made her uncomfortable. However, his intention was to address and alleviate the situation, not admit fault, according to Rosenblatt and the sworn statement.

The report said investigators collected CCTV footage of the incident, though Rosenblatt said he had not seen it and it was not provided to Army Times.

“Mr. Hamilton will utilize a process provided for by law and Army regulation to show that this allegation is false and the investigation unfounded,” Rosenblatt said in a statement. “We are confident that the Army, through this ongoing process, will eventually reach the correct result.”

Rosenblatt said the investigation was unfairly influenced by three issues, including a “lack of transparency and communication” that allowed for “misunderstandings to lead to inaccurate conclusions.”

“Second, senior Army leaders have recently acknowledged that racial disparities continue to plague the fair administration of military justice,” Rosenblatt’s statement reads, adding that his client is the first general officer from Jamaica. “Finally, in recent years Army investigators have often faced pressure to substantiate any allegation of sexual misconduct regardless of merit.”

The female soldier’s name and rank were redacted in the Army CID report, and she was not able to comment for this article.

Hamilton, a West Point graduate, has served in the Army for more than three decades. Though the misconduct allegation arose in Texas, Hamilton’s last role with NATO had him based in Gloucester, the United Kingdom.

Hamilton and the female soldier were part of a small U.S. contingent in Gloucester comprised of only a few dozen personnel.

Prior to his position within NATO, Hamilton served as the commander of Task Force Southeast in Afghanistan and as a deputy commanding general for the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

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