MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Army Reserve suspended the commander of an Illinois-based unit Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations that unit officers mishandled sexual misconduct complaints and retaliated against a whistleblower.
Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, commanding general of the Army Reserve Command, announced in a statement that he has suspended the 416th Theater Engineering Command’s commander. The statement didn’t identify the commander by name, but the unit’s website lists Maj. Gen. Miyako Schanely as its leader.
The 416th’s spokesman, Jason Proseus, didn’t immediately return an after-hours email Tuesday evening.
According to Schanely’s biography, she joined the Army in 1986, transitioned to the reserves in 1993 and held command positions with units at Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Dix as well as in Syracuse, New York. She also serves as the executive director of the State University of New York North Country Consortium, a partnership of six SUNY campuses that works to bring college degree programs to Fort Drum.
Luckey said in his statement that such suspensions are routine during ongoing investigations. He added, however, that a “number of potentially adverse findings” have been tied to 416th officers. He did not elaborate or name the officers, saying only that the officers will be entitled to free legal representation as they draft their responses.
“The Army is committed to preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault, each of which harms Soldiers and erodes unit readiness and cohesion,” Luckey said.
Army spokeswoman Col. Sunset Belinsky said she wouldn’t have any further information until the investigation is complete.
The 416th, based in the Chicago suburb of Darien, provides technical and engineering support for U.S. military forces. It serves as the headquarters for nearly 11,000 soldiers in 26 states west of the Mississippi River.
Amy Braley Franck, a civilian sexual assault victim advocate with the 416th, has alleged that commanders launched internal investigations into at least two sexual assault cases, one in 2018 and another last year. Federal law and Department of Defense policy require that commanders refer sexual assault complaints to criminal investigators in their respective branches to avoid biased investigations. Commanders who don’t follow the proper channels can face reprimand, removal from command or a court martial.