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Report of Investigation John M. Richardson Admiral U.S. Navy DODIG-2019-002

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We initiated an investigation that assessed Navy Admiral John M. Richardson’s response to sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against a member of his personal staff.  We reviewed a preliminary inquiry and three U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service reports of investigation involving the personal staff officer.  We interviewed 17 witnesses, reviewed more than 25,000 official e-mails, and reviewed legal documents that proposed courses of action Navy leadership could take in response to the personal staff member’s actions.  Additionally, we visited the daily workspaces of the alleged victims, the personal staff member, and the offices of Navy leadership, all located in the Pentagon, to understand the physical locations and proximity of the alleged victims to the personal staff officer. 

We determined that Navy leadership took action to investigate the allegations during the initial period after learning of the first allegation against Admiral Richardson’s personal staff officer.  However, we concluded that after the investigations and legal reviews were completed, and Admiral Richardson made his decision to remove the personal staff officer from his position, he did not take sufficient action to ensure that his decision was implemented in a timely manner.

We considered Admiral Richardson’s failure to ensure that the personal staff officer was removed from his position and reassigned in a timely way to be a performance issue, and that his actions or inaction did not violate any applicable standards in effect at the time, and did not constitute misconduct.  However, we recommended that the Secretary of the Navy review Admiral Richardson’s performance in light of the information presented in our report.  We also recommended that the Navy revise Naval Military Personnel Manual 1611-010 to include a timeliness requirement for reassignments of personal staff officers who are the subjects of investigations.