Air Force finds sexual harassment in Elmendorf fighter unit

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 1997

August 12, 1997

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Tuesday, August 12, 1997Air Force finds sexual harassment in Elmendorf fighter unit

Last modified at 2:54 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, 1997

By JIM CLARKE

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ANCHORAGE - Air Force investigators have concluded a former lieutenant stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base was sexually harassed in 1995.

Investigators agreed with Julie Clemm that the work environment in the 90th Fighter Squadron was ``sexually offensive, sexually hostile and generally unprofessional.''

Most of the specific harassment complaints she had leveled at Maj. Michael Cloutier, however, were not substantiated by investigators.

In a separate but related report, the Air Force Inspector General also found no formal Air Force support for the Command Barstool Association. Cloutier is a member of the group, a fighter pilot social club known for its drinking and sometimes raucous behavior.

Clemm's allegations sprang from a deployment of the 90th to Aviano, Italy, in late 1995 to help enforce a no-fly zone over Bosnia.

While in Italy the squadron's commander, Lt. Col. Shelley Rogers, was removed from his position after Cloutier accused him of having an affair with Clemm, who was then an intelligence officer.

Clemm, in turn, accused Cloutier of propositioning her and making other unwelcome sexual comments.

In a report whose summary was released several weeks ago, the Air Force's Inspector General concluded Cloutier erred in referring to Clemm as ``sweetheart'' and ``girl'' after she asked him to use her proper name; he also made ``an unwelcome sexual remark'' to her. Investigators could not prove other harassment allegations, including Clemm's assertion Cloutier propositioned her.

Cloutier has consistently denied he propositioned Clemm.

The unit's leadership, including Rogers and Cloutier, who were first- and second-in-command in Italy, were criticized for allowing a locker-room atmosphere to persist. The report singled out instances where pornographic videos were shown in a squadron operations room, and where pornographic magazines were left in a squadron vehicle.

Investigators also found officials failed to send Clemm's sexual harassment complaint to Defense Department inspectors as ordered.

Clemm has left the Air Force and is planning to begin law school next month. She was out of town and could not be reached, but her mother said the family is deeply disappointed in the report's conclusions. She said investigators ignored key evidence that would have supported her daughter's charges against Cloutier.

``It makes my case that the Air Force is incapable of investigating itself,'' Jean Clemm said.

Cloutier said he had some regrets about the matter and should have ``been more proactive . . . in keeping sexually oriented material out of the work place.''

Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Robin Crumm said no decisions had been made about whether or how to discipline Cloutier or Rogers. Rogers lost a promotion to colonel when he was relieved of command in Italy, and Cloutier's promotion to lieutenant colonel was put on hold pending the investigation's outcome.

The Air Force Inspector General's office also concluded the Command Barstoolers Association did not receive help from or improperly use property belonging to the Air Force.

Rogers accused Cloutier and other members of the organization of conspiring to have him removed from the fighter squadron's command.

Copyright © 1996, 1997 Southeastern Newspaper Corp.

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