Hyten accuser: 'The bottom line is he lied about sexually assaulting me'

Hyten accuser: 'The bottom line is he lied about sexually assaulting me'
© U.S. Air Force

Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, the woman accusing Gen. John Hyten of sexual assault, accused the general of lying under oath at his confirmation hearing to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday.

“You just had a four-star general get up in front of the American people and in open testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and make false official statements under oath,” Spletstoser told reporters after the hearing. “The bottom line is he lied about sexually assaulting me. He did it. He did it multiple times.”

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“Notwithstanding all of those things, we’re not talking about winning a case in a court of law,” she added later. “You’re talking about a promotion to be the second highest military officer in the United States of America. One who couldn’t answer simple questions about sexual assault or its policy or how we handle it. And one who failed to treat a subordinate under his command with dignity and respect.”

During the hearing, Hyten categorically denied Spletstoser’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her while she was one of his aides in 2017.

“It has been a painful time for me and my family, but I want to state for you and the American people in the strongest possible terms that these allegations are false,” Hyten, the current head of Strategic Command, said during the hearing. “Nothing happened, ever.”

Spletstoser alleges there were multiple instances of unwanted kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her, but that the “most egregious” one was an incident in her hotel room while they were at the Reagan National Defense Forum. She alleges that he pressed up against her while kissing her and that he ejaculated on her.

“The reality is that had he not prematurely ejaculated at Reagan, he could have raped me,” she said Tuesday.

An Air Force investigation into the allegation ended without charges.

Spletstoser on Tuesday maintained that Hyten was not cleared in the investigation because it is not the Air Force Office of Special Investigations’ job to make a determination of guilt.

She added that she felt like she was “sandbagged” because the investigation was more into her than into Hyten.

Further, she said, there was corroborating evidence that supported moving forward with charges. Still, she acknowledged the actual instances of sexual assault were not corroborated because she did not contemporaneously tell anyone about them.

“I was scared, mortified and frankly I thought a lot of his come-ons were high schoolish, college-like, sophomoric, and I thought I could just make it to the end,” she said. “In hindsight, I should have” told someone at the time.

At the top of the hearing, former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson defended the service’s handling of the investigation, saying Hyten was “falsely accused” and suggesting that Spletstoser may believe the accusations because she is “wounded soldier.”

Spletstoser called Wilson’s comments “incredibly disrespectful.”

Many questions during the hearing also focused on a separate investigation that found Spletstoser created a “toxic” environment for those working under her at Strategic Command.

Hyten testified that he was slow to realize the issue. But Spletstoser told reporters he was well aware of her leadership style and encouraged it.

“He thought my leadership style, rough around the edges that it may be, that I held people accountability,” she said. “The fact of the matter is Gen. Hyten was very much infatuated with me.”

Spletstoser has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors, but said she thinks it’s important she be allowed to testify publicly so senators outside the committee hear her side. She also said she would support publicly releasing the investigation into her allegations.

“This moving forward tells every sexual assault survivor, victim, whatever you want to call them, that they need not bother to report it, they won’t be taken seriously,” she said.