A retired four-star general, who at one point was head of Air Mobility Command, is being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female colonel who was under his command.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement to Air Force Times that retired Gen. Arthur Lichte, who headed AMC from 2007 to 2009, is the subject of the investigation. And Lt. Col. Kathryn Barnsley, a spokeswoman for AMC, confirmed that the complainant was a colonel.

Former Air Force officer Tony Carr broke the news about the investigation on his John Q. Public blog, citing an internal memo from AMC.

According to Carr, the memo referred to three alleged incidents of sexual assault occurring between April 2007 and April 2009. The memo said Lichte allegedly "used his position of power to coerce sexual contact," Carr reported.

Barnsley could not confirm those details.

In her statement, Stefanek said the Air Force "will conduct a thorough investigation," but said it would be inappropriate to comment further while it is ongoing.

"The Air Force takes all allegations of sexual assault or harassment very seriously," Stefanek said. "We are committed to upholding the high standards and values of our service and ensuring an environment of dignity and respect, where sexual assault or harassment is not tolerated, and where there is clear accountability placed on all airmen at every level."

A message requesting comment left by Air Force Times at a number listed for Lichte was not immediately returned.

Lichte, from New York City, entered the Air Force in 1971 as a distinguished graduate of Manhattan College's ROTC program, according to his Air Force biography. He held command positions at squadron, group and wing levels. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours in various aircraft, including the C-5, C-17, C-20, C-21, C-32, C-37, C-130, EC/RC-121, KC-10, KC-135, UH-1N and VC-137.

In addition to his command experience, he held headquarters-level assignments at Strategic Air Command, Air Mobility Command, the Air Force and U.S. Transportation Command. He also served as assistant vice chief of staff and director, Air Force Staff, 

He retired on Jan. 1, 2010.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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