An embattled top Army official has resigned amid an internal investigation of allegations that he intimidated whistle-blowers over patient abuse and corruption at a U.S.-funded Afghan hospital, Politico reported
Retiring Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton is among nearly a dozen high-profile military members who may have been pressured to step down this year by the Obama administration, reports Catholic Online.
Patton was serving as director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention program. The hospital probe was related to a previous stint in Afghanistan, reports Politico.
Congress had been training its sights on Patton as it pushed for major reforms in how the military deals with sexual predators among its ranks.
In announcing Patton's retirement, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did not make any reference to the probe over whether Patton tried to stop hospital staffers at the Dawood military hospital in Kabul from talking to the Investigator General's Office.
Patton, a 35-year veteran, is being replaced by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, an Army strategy director.
A Pentagon official familiar with the case told Politico that the 18-month investigation had found that "the only substantiated claim against Maj. Gen. Patton was that he restricted communication with the DOD IG by forwarding one email from Lt. Gen. Caldwell [his superior]."
A Patton spokeswoman said he had decided to resign over the summer and it was not related to the Afghan hospital inquiry.
Joe Newman, a spokesman for the Project on Government Oversight, had urged Hagel to fire Patton. He told Politico, "We feel that it's a positive step forward if it was time for him to retire or if there was pressure from above."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who is leading the push to reform Pentagon sexual assault policies, said she looked forward to meeting Snow "to discuss his views and vision for strengthening this important office."
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