A supervisor at Scott Air Force Base’s bowling alley and golf course repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances on one of his employees, according to a lawsuit filed in St. Clair County in September, allegations he denies.
Corinne Hamilton claims James McCormick created a hostile work environment when he made lewd comments to her, cut her work hours in retaliation and intimidated her by releasing confidential information from her personnel file.
McCormick told the Belleville News-Democrat he fully denies the allegations.
“These claims were brought up a year ago and fully investigated by the Air Force,” McCormick said. “They were found to be fully unsubstantiated.”
The Air Force did investigate the case, according to Karen Petitt, a spokeswoman for the base.
“While we are unable to discuss specific details of this matter, an independent commander-driven internal investigation was conducted in response to these allegations, and found that the allegations were not substantiated,” Petitt wrote in a prepared statement.
McCormick remains in his position at the base, according to Petitt.
McCormick is a Professional Golfers’ Association expert and manager of the Cardinal Creek Golf Course and Stars and Strikes Bowling Center at the base, where he started working in 2015, according to the base’s website. Hamilton, 40, also began working part-time at both the golf course and bowling alley in 2016, she said.
McCormick reduced Hamilton’s hours from 40 hours a week to eight after she refused his sexual advances, according to the lawsuit.
“If you had kept your mouth shut, you would have 40 hours,” the lawsuit alleges McCormick said.
McCormick denies he ever cut Hamilton’s hours.
“Her hours were never cut. Her hours remained the same,” McCormick said. “It’s completely not true. I have no idea what she’s doing.”
The lawsuit alleges McCormick also made lewd comments to Hamilton such as “if you had opened your legs, you would have gotten a raise,” and “you belong on yours knees.”
Hamilton seeks $50,000 from McCormick in the lawsuit.
Hamilton eventually got a job in a different department at the base, but later resigned from the base entirely at the end of 2017, she said in an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat.
Since resigning from her job, Hamilton says she has needed counseling and struggled with low self-esteem in addition to financial problems. She now works two jobs.
Difficulty in reporting sexual harassment
Hamilton told the BND she found it difficult to report the alleged harassment because she felt her superiors were “all together.”
“I had nobody I could trust because they were all men,” Hamilton said. “It didn’t go up the chain of command like it was supposed to.”
The bowling alley and golf course fall under the command of the 375th Force Support Squadron. The squadron employs more than 600 military and civilian personnel and provides recreation, education and other services to Scott Air Force Base members and their families, according to 375th Air Mobility Wing public affairs.
The base spokeswoman said the Air Force is “required to investigate thoroughly all allegations of harassment within their command, and this case was no exception.”
“The Air Force strongly believes in fostering a workplace that is free from harassment of any kind,” Petitt said.
Hamilton says she hopes victims of sexual harassment feel comfortable in coming forward, though she said the military still needs to improve how it handles sexual harassment cases.
“Sexual harassment with women or men, whether they’re supervisors or employees, it’s not going to stop. But (my case) will probably make people realize that just because (they) work for the military, or work for a company that is affiliated with the military, does not give them the right,” Hamilton said. “A lot of people do think, oh, they’re in the military and because I’m in the military, you can’t touch me but I can touch you and get away with it, and a lot of military men do.”
Hamilton’s case follows multiple sexual misconduct cases at Scott Air Force Base.
A former Scott Air Force Base commander recently agreed to retire after he was punished for sexual misconduct against a female junior airman. Col. John Howard received a $10,840 dock in pay and a formal reprimand from his commander in addition to his agreement to retire.
Howard’s case almost went to military court but stopped short of it because the victim decided not to testify. Retirement is a common punishment for high-ranking military officials accused of such behavior.
Retired Maj. Gen. Arthur Lichte, former leader of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, also agreed to retire after Air Force officials determined he had coerced a subordinate officer to have sex with him on three occasions.
Hamilton’s attorney, Edwardsville-based Brian Wendler, said a court summons has been served to McCormick. St. Clair County Court records did not list an attorney for McCormick as of Thursday morning.