Defense

Whistleblower claims leaders of VA sought damaging information on woman alleging sexual assault

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A whistleblower came forward Friday accusing leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of seeking damaging information on a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted at a VA facility.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee told The Hill Saturday that it had “received details from an individual with knowledge of decision making by senior VA leaders that shows they attempted to gather damaging information” on Navy Reserve Lt. Andrea Goldstein. Goldstein works on the panel and focuses on issues impacting female veterans.

The committee added that VA leadership also “may have improperly utilized government time and resources” to dig up dirt on Goldstein, and that it was working “to determine to what extent VA leaders attempted to tarnish a staff member’s character and spread false information about her past in retaliation for her reporting of a sexual assault. 

A copy of the whistleblower complaint that was obtained by ProPublica showed that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie personally sought damaging information on Goldstein. A former senior official also told the investigative outlet that Wilkie floated using the information he obtained to discredit Goldstein.

Wilkie has denied any wrongdoing. 

“I never would do that to a fellow officer,” Wilkie told ProPublica in a statement. “It is a breach of honor.”

The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The scandal first came to light in September when Goldstein alleged that a man at a VA facility in Washington pressed his body into her and said, “You look like you could use a good time.” 

Goldstein could not identify the man, but said he was not an employee of the site. 

Goldstein’s allegation was turned over to the VA’s inspector general review. However, the complaint claims that Wilkie conducted a simultaneous investigation “into Ms. Goldstein’s credibility and military record.”

Tags Robert Wilkie Robert Wilkie Sexual assault United States Department of Veterans Affairs Whistleblower

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