Army colonel comes forward as woman accusing No. 2 general nominee of sexual assault

The woman accusing Gen. John Hyten, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE's nominee to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of sexual assault publicly identified herself as Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser.

In an on-the-record interview with The New York Times published Friday, Spletstoser, who served two combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan as part of her 28-year career, said it was her duty to come forward after Hyten was nominated to be the second highest-ranking general in the country.

“I realized I have a moral responsibility to come forward,” Spletstoser said. “I could not live with myself if this happens to someone else, and I didn’t do anything to stop it.”

The Pentagon told The Hill on Friday it had no new comment following the Times report.

Pentagon officials have previously said an Air Force investigation cleared Hyten of the allegations.

“After a comprehensive investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, there was insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct on the part of Gen. Hyten,” Pentagon spokeswoman Col. DeDe Halfhill told The Hill on July 10. “Gen. Hyten cooperated with the investigation. With more than 38 years of service to our nation, Gen. Hyten has proven himself to be a principled and dedicated patriot.”

A spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command, which Hyten currently leads, said Friday the command "fully cooperated" with the Air Force investigation.

"According to Air Force officials, there was insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct on the part of Gen Hyten," Cmdr. Bill Clinton said in a statement to The Hill.

Spletstoser’s accusations against Hyten first came to light earlier this month when the Senate Armed Services Committee was briefed on the issue.

Spletstoser also previously described her allegations to The Associated Press and Washington Post, but did not agree to be identified in those interviews.

Her on-the-record interview comes days before the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Hyten. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

The committee interviewed Spletstoser behind closed doors this past Tuesday. It did the same for Hyten on Thursday.

“Gen. Hyten thanks Chairman [James] Inhofe [R-Okla.] and the committee members for this opportunity to share his side of the story,” Strategic Command spokesman Clinton told reporters Thursday.

Spletstoser alleges that Hyten subjected her to unwanted sexual advances by kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her in 2017 when she was one of his aides.

The advances escalated, she alleges, culminating in an incident in her hotel room in Simi Valley, Calif., while they were at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

In her description of the incident to The New York Times, Spletstoser said Hyten sat down on her bed and asked her to sit down next to him. When he reached for her hand, she said, she was alarmed and stood back up. He then stood up, too, pulled her in and kissed her on the lips while pressing up against her, she said. He then ejaculated, getting semen on his sweatpants and her yoga pants, she said.

Afterward, she said, she got a towel from the bathroom, threw it at him and told him to clean himself up. After a few minutes in the bathroom, he came out apologetic and asked if she would report him.

“I was really distraught,” Spletstoser told the Times. But “who was I going to report it do? [former Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis? Really? All I was trying to do was just survive and not have my life ruined.”

Hyten's wife Laura told Air Force investigators that John Hyten took a lie-detector test administered by a private company, according to the Times, which viewed parts of the investigation.

Laura Hyten told investigators she was upset afterward because “it did not go well,” but later “clarified she did not mean that the polygraph did not go well but rather she understood that the results were inconclusive,” according to the Times.

Hyten declined to take a lie-detector test for the Air Force investigation, two defense officials told the Times. Spletstoser told the Times she was not asked to take one.

--Updated at 9:24 p.m.