A married Army sergeant charged Wednesday that the Army’s chief enlisted man carried on a furtive relationship with her, then sexually assaulted her in his home while she was eight and a half months pregnant.
Appearing before an Army pre-trial hearing, Sgt. Christine Roy described how Gene C. McKinney, the sergeant major of the Army, had befriended her at a golf tournament, then four months later committed an act that made her “feel like trash--I felt used.”
Her sworn statements, made before a proceeding considering whether McKinney should be sent before court-martial, are likely to be the most serious allegations raised against him by four current and former military women. Roy, a 25-year-old mother of two, also touched a political nerve by claiming that her Army superiors had “not supported me very well” as she risked her career by accusing McKinney, an official who is supposed to be a moral beacon and personal representative of the Army’s 400,000 enlisted personnel.
McKinney, 47, who was suspended from his duties in February, faces 18 preliminary charges, including counts of indecent assault, sexual misconduct, adultery, maltreatment of a subordinate and impeding an investigation.
He has denied all wrongdoing. After Wednesday’s hearing, his attorney, Charles W. Gittins, said of Roy’s testimony: “It didn’t happen, I can tell you that.”
In a spartan converted dining room at the Army’s Ft. Nair, Roy described in a calm tone how she and McKinney developed a complicated relationship that mingled feelings in her of warmth, awe, fear and, later, revulsion.
McKinney met her while she was tending a beverage cart at an Army golf tournament at Ft. Meade, Md. She said he complimented her work and told her that he had a job for her if she ever wanted one.
That offer came to nothing, but in the months that followed, McKinney cultivated Roy’s acquaintance, she said, calling her regularly at her home, from which her husband, a long-haul truck driver, was often absent.
Roy said she found McKinney to be a good listener, a man who helped bolster her flagging self-esteem and gave her advice on her strains with her 3-year-old daughter and in her marriage.
“He was there for me,” she said. And she said she recognized that McKinney was in a position to help her career--or hurt it if she displeased him. “I never forgot the fact that he was the sergeant major of the Army,” she said.
She said McKinney invited her to his house, introduced her to his wife, and was “very professional” in his treatment of her when she followed him on a trip to Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., in a job tryout. But it was also clear that McKinney did not want their frequent contacts to be seen by the outside world, she said.
He warned her not to talk about their contacts, lest people “get the wrong idea,” and once, when she visited his house at Ft. Meyer, had her park out of sight so that the neighbors would not report it to his wife, Wilhelmina, Roy said.
She said McKinney sometimes tried to steer the conversation around to sex. He was once “devastated” when she said she saw him as a “father figure” rather than as an attractive man.
She was uncomfortable with his talk of sex and his calls to her home, and even more uncomfortable when he showed up in person. But she didn’t dare break off their contacts for fear of damaging her career, she said.
At one point she acknowledged that “perhaps I encouraged the relationship” because of what she hoped McKinney could do for her.
But the relationship changed last Oct. 30, she said, after McKinney assaulted her during a visit to his home. She said she pushed him away when he began touching her but never told him no.
Indeed, she said she told McKinney later that she didn’t feel that he had sexually harassed her. When he called her after the disclosures about the Army’s sex scandal at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, she told him their encounter was not harassment but something “different.”
Roy said that while she had felt “awful” after the act, she later had “prided myself on the fact that I had tucked this away in a dark corner and went on with my life.”
She said she only decided to report her experience when other charges against McKinney were made public last February. Then her father-in-law, an Army sergeant major, called several times to urge her to bring forward evidence against McKinney if he had done anything wrong to her.
She said she was a reluctant witness, and only in her third statement to Army criminal investigators did she tell the full story of her relationship. She was given a grant of immunity to protect her against a charge of adultery.
And she decried what she said was the lack of encouragement from her Army chain of command. She had hoped to make the Army her career, she said, but now “I feel that my career is over. My name will be known, my record will be marked.”
The hearing brought charges from attorneys for one accuser and the accused that the so-called Article 32 proceeding was unfairly conducted. Gittins, the attorney for McKinney, said it was improper that Col. Owen C. Powell, formally the accuser in the matter, should also have chosen Col. Robert L. Jarvis to preside over the investigative hearing.
At the same time, the hearing brought objections from an attorney for retired Sgt. Maj. Brenda L. Hoster, the only other woman to publicly accuse McKinney.
Susan Barnes, the attorney, said McKinney’s attorneys should not be given wide latitude to attack the accusers in the pretrial hearing.