US Army's top woman files sex complaint

The United States military is facing another sexual harassment scandal, this time involving the army's most senior female officer who is said to have had filed an official complaint against a fellow general for "inappropriate touching".

Officials inside the Pentagon confirmed privately that a claim related to inappropriate sexual advances while on duty has been lodged by Lt-Gen. Claudia Kennedy, 52, and is now under formal investigation. There was no official comment, however.

The case is likely to cause severe embarrassment to the military which has been working hard to bury past sex-related scandals and project a new image of being more open to women, including promotion to the highest ranks. The US Army has only three women at three-star officer level.

The incident apparently took place towards the end of 1996 and was the subject initially of a verbal complaint. Lt-Gen Kennedy made a formal allegation after her colleague was promoted, news reports said.

Lt-Gen Kennedy, who has been seen as a possible future director of the CIA, told USA Weekend in 1997: "I dealt with it individually. There were times I had to say no very forcefully."

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