THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, August 27, 1994 TAG: 9408270212 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A12 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY DALE EISMAN, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: WASHINGTON LENGTH: Medium: 59 lines
Adm. Stanley R. Arthur, whose nomination to head U.S. forces in the Pacific was derailed in June because of his alleged mishandling of a sexual harassment case, will retire from the Navy on Feb. 1.
The Pentagon announced Arthur's plans on Friday, saying President Clinton has nominated him to retain his rank as a four-star admiral. That will require approval by the Senate and opens the possibility that the harassment allegations will yet get a full airing.
Arthur, 58, is vice chief of naval operations, the second-highest ranking officer in the Navy. He was commander of U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf war.
In the spring, Clinton nominated Arthur to become commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific. But the nomination was withdrawn June 24 after Sen. Dave Durenberger, R-Minn., raised questions about Arthur's handling of sexual harassment allegations brought by an aspiring Navy helicopter pilot.
Lt. Rebecca Hansen said Arthur brushed aside her complaint that she was flunked out of flight school in 1993 in retaliation for bringing harassment charges against one of her instructors a year earlier.
The Navy and Hansen agree she was harassed in the '92 case; her instructor was verbally reprimanded and later left the service.
But after investigations by the Navy and Defense Department inspector generals, Arthur concluded Hansen's problems in flight school resulted from her subpar performance rather than any retaliation by other instructors.
Durenberger threatened to hold up Arthur's nomination to the Pacific command until the Navy addressed his questions about the Hansen case. Arthur, with an apparent assist from Adm. J.M. ``Mike'' Boorda, the chief of naval operations, then decided to withdraw rather than let the Pacific fleet job go unfilled during what might have been protracted hearings.
The withdrawal triggered an outcry among Arthur's friends on Capitol Hill, where he is among the most popular of senior military leaders, and in the corps of retired officers. Critics charged that Boorda's determination to improve the Navy's image on sexual harassment led him to sacrifice Arthur.
In mid-July, the volume of complaints prompted Boorda to issue an unusual public defense of Arthur and the decision not to fight for his nomination.
``Stan Arthur is an officer of integrity . . . who chose to take this selfless action . . . in the interests of more rapidly filling a critical leadership position,'' Boorda wrote then. ``Those who postulate other reasons for the withdrawal are simply wrong.''
To retire with four stars, Arthur will need the same Senate approval required for the Pacific fleet job. But because Durenberger is not seeking re-election and will be leaving the Senate in January, the nomination could go through quietly unless some other senator takes up Hansen's cause. ILLUSTRATION: Photo