The Vermont National Guard responded Thursday to a number of allegations including that it mishandled cases of sexual harassment. The allegations come after a series reported by VTDigger.
During a press conference, Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Vermont adjutant general, defended the processes that are in place to handle cases of sexual harassment, but also said the guard would use this as an opportunity to make the process more transparent.
“The goal there is to come up with a policy of how we can let the organization know that we do have incidents that happen without releasing any personal information and then to follow up with a disposition of that case,” Cray said.
The adjutant general also criticized the tone of the VTDigger series.
“To be clear, I vehemently disagree with and dispute the negative characterization of our members and our culture,” Cray said.
Anne Galloway, the editor of VTDigger, said the organization stands by its reporting.
“We spent six months reporting,” she said. “We made sure every sentence was backed up by multiple sources, we used documents, we used interviews.”
Galloway said since the series has come out, they’ve heard from a dozen more people from inside the guard who’ve “corroborated our stories and have more stories to tell about the culture of the guard.”
Gov. Phil Scott, who appeared with Cray at the press conference Thursday, said this was an opportunity to review the process for dealing with misconduct. He also stressed that his faith and confidence in the Vermont National Guard was “unwavering.”
“And I believe they have followed their systems and I believe they’ve followed the systems of their federal partners as well for adjudicating difficult personnel matters,” Scott said.
Scott also praised VTDigger’s reporting for bringing some of alleged incidents to light but said he’s “not convinced there’s any more” and said he didn’t think an independent investigation is needed at this time.