Metro-East News

‘We fell short’: Scott’s Air Mobility Command officers address sex harassment

A sign welcomes visitors through the Belleville Gate entrance at Scott Air Force Base.
A sign welcomes visitors through the Belleville Gate entrance at Scott Air Force Base. Chad R. Gann, USAF

The results of gender-based focus groups conducted this week at the Air Mobility Command in the wake of a sexual harassment controversy involving civilian workers won’t be released to the public, according to AMC lawyers.

The focus group interview results, as well as a workplace climate survey completed in December, won’t be shared with the public because “climate surveys are really the tool of the commander,” said Col. Jim Dapper, judge advocate for AMC’s headquarters. “And it’s designed for him and a certain amount of anonymity for all those who respond, and given to him in confidence for him to take appropriate action. If we start to make this public, it tends to erode the effectiveness of the tool for those who respond to future surveys.”

Dozens of AMC employees, both civilian and active-duty military, were assigned to take part in gender-based focus groups that began this past Monday and ran through Thursday, as a result of a workplace survey in which workers in a key AMC unit, known as A3, participated in December.

The focus groups were set up at AMC a day after the BND published an article about a sexual harassment case that has roiled AMC for nearly a year.

Dapper spoke during a news conference that brought to the table AMC’s top leaders in the fight against sexual harassment at the command, as well as reporters from the Belleville News-Democrat, and, on speaker-phone, reporters from other media outlets, including Air Force Times.

On Sunday, the BND reported on a case that involved Mary K. Reid, a branch chief within A3 called A3B, otherwise known as the Department of Defense Commercial Airlift Division.

Reid lost her job as chief of the A3B analysis branch in early October after a commander-directed investigation substantiated allegations that Reid had sexually harassed three female employees. The allegations have led to offers of financial settlements to the three from Scott’s office of Equal Employment Opportunity and a misdemeanor charge in St. Clair County of battery against Reid, filed by one of her accusers.

Reid, through her attorney, denies the allegations and says the accusers have financial motives. Reid is seeking to dismiss the misdemeanor charge and reclaim her old job.

Col. Mike Zick, AMC’s assistant operations director, acknowledged other AMC employees had been disciplined in connection with the Reid case, but declined to say how many or what discipline had been taken against them.

Zick said required actions had been taken while holding accountable those in positions of responsibility. Above all, AMC employees can “feel comfortable in doing their best, and actually working in a place where professional dignity and respect are always stressed,” Zick said. “We fell short in this. And frankly we need to do better, a lot better.”

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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