Air Mobility Command held four days of focus groups for employees of a unit whose former supervisor has been accused of sexual harassment.
The former supervisor, Mary K. Reid, lost her job in October as chief of the Department of Defense Commercial Airlift Division at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, after a commander-directed investigation substantiated allegations that Reid had sexually harassed three civilian female employees, the Belleville News-Democrat first reported Feb. 28.
Reid also faces a misdemeanor battery charge in St. Clair County for allegedly grabbing the breasts of a female employee a year ago, according to the sheriff department's complaint report. Two years earlier, the woman alleged in the report, "Reid walked up behind her, grabbed her buttocks and began massaging it."
The woman also accused Reid of showing the woman her breasts in the restroom "because she had breast implants and wanted an opinion as to how they looked," the report said.
The alleged victim said she did not come forward earlier "because she was scared to say anything to anyone in fear of losing her job and retaliation from Reid," according to the complaint report.
Reid plans to challenge the battery charge and her dismissal, the News-Democrat reported.
Phone messages left by Air Force Times for Reid's attorney, Eric Rhein, were not returned.
But Rhein told the News-Democrat that Reid had pleaded not guilty to the charges and that her accusers were motivated by money.
The 375th Air Mobility Wing's Equal Opportunity Office has settled claims with the women.
A motions hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for March 18. On March 31, Reid will appear before a federal Merit System Protection Board in an effort to be restored to her position.
"The Air Force has the burden to prove to the merit system board," the actions taken against Reid were appropriate, AMC judge advocate Col. James Dapper said March 5. He declined to discuss the details of the case pending the upcoming hearing.
AMC has not made public the commander-directed investigation that led to the dismissal of Reid. Air Force Times has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents.
Dapper said the allegations substantiated in the report "had to do with sexually charged discussions and remarks as well as inappropriate touching of a sexual nature."
AMC leadership was first alerted to a problem within the unit after the alleged victim in the criminal case made a report with the 375th Air Mobility Wing's Sexual Assault Response coordinator. The complaint was eventually referred to the wing's Equal Opportunity Office.
Dapper said that claim as well as others stemming from the case "have been fully resolved."
He declined to say how many complaints were made or to provide details about the nature of the allegations.
Dapper said the claims against Reid were given "immediate attention at the highest levels of command leadership. A careful investigation was launched and conducted by a seasoned officer. An appropriate response has been issued."
Command leadership also worked to reinforce guidance and care for those affected by what took place within the unit, from those who were victimized to those who witnessed it, said Col. Michael Zick, the command's assistant operations director.
In addition to firing Reid, the Air Force also took additional action against others within the unit, Zick said. He declined to say how many were disciplined or what actions were taken, saying only that "all those that were responsible were held accountable."
"When we tell you that action has been taken, it has," Zick said. "We need to ensure there's always a place they feel comfortable in doing their best, and actually working in a place where professionalism and dignity and respect are always stressed. We fell short in this. And frankly, we need to do better. A lot better."
An AMC command climate survey conducted around the same time Reid was fired found further issues of low morale and attitudes about sexual harassment. In response, the Air Force took the additional step of conducting focus groups.
The groups, which concluded March 5, were led by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, which provides training to service members and DoD civilians, said Chief Master Sgt. Sherley Jones, the command's EO strategic adviser.
The groups met off campus to further promote the free flow of information, Jones said. Participants are encouraged to talk issues such as communication and leadership as well as about problems or issues within the workplace. They are also urged to talk about what is working.
Group facilitators will draft up their findings and present them to AMC leadership, Jones said.