A senior civilian in the Army inspector general’s office sexually harassed employees, made racially charged comments and talked about the “belly fat” of women, according to a Pentagon report released Wednesday that called for him to be disciplined.
Joseph Guzowski denied all the allegations, according to the report. The Pentagon’s inspector general sided with four women who complained about sexist, racist and boorish behavior.
The inspector general concluded that “his overall course of conduct toward employees discussed in this report exhibited his failure to treat them with dignity and respect. We recommended that the Army take appropriate action regarding Mr. Guzowski.”
One of Guzowski’s duties, according to the report, was overseeing quality control inspections of Army programs, including its sexual harassment response and prevention program.
The Army acknowledged the findings about Guzowski’s conduct but noted that investigators found no criminal action.
“We are currently reviewing the results of that investigation to determine appropriate action,” said Lt. Col. Jason Brown, an Army spokesman. “As this is under review, we cannot provide any further comment at this time.”
The report was released one week after inspectors general for the armed services and the Pentagon appeared with top military brass before a panel of the House Armed Services Committee to discuss misconduct among senior civilians and officers. The Pentagon inspector general handles complaints against the most senior officers and civilians, such as Guzowski.
The report details several complaints against Guzowski, the first two involving the same woman.
Drinks and a forced kiss
Guzowski and the woman had drinks at a restaurant near the Pentagon after work in April 2012, the report says. Guzowski drove her home, then gave her an unwanted kiss on the mouth, according to her account in the report. She showed investigators “how she used her hand to wipe the kiss from her mouth and stared at Mr. Guzowski to express her disapproval.”
Guzowksi told investigators he did not recall going out with the woman that night. He denied driving her home and kissing her.
“Not even,” he told investigators.
The woman told investigators Guzowski groped her in the same week. As they passed in a hallway, he grazed her buttocks with his hand, she said. After the incident, she told a fellow staffer “that Mr. Guzowski had just grabbed my ass.” The staffer told investigators the woman said she felt “violated.”
Guzowski denied touching the woman “inappropriately…numerous years ago!” according to an email he sent to investigators June 6, 2017.
He allegedly groped another woman’s buttocks Dec. 22, 2016, in a conference room. Guzowski “placed his right hand on the right side of her waist just above her hip, squeezed her waist, then slid his hand down onto the right side of her buttocks,” she told investigators.
The woman told a female military officer an hour after the alleged incident. The officer told investigators that the woman was upset and had tears in her eyes, saying Guzowski had groped her “deliberately.”
Later, the woman told a retired Army major general whom she considered a mentor about the incident. The retired general urged her to document her complaint, according to text messages included in the report. On Jan. 3, 2017, the woman filed a formal complaint.
Guzowski denied touching the woman, according to the report.
Complaints of racial bias
The complaint about racial bias against Guzouski stems from a conference at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama on July 14, 2016. On an elevator, Guzowski referred to an African-American woman as an “elevator boy,” or “elevator attendant,” the woman told investigators.
“She told us Mr. Guzowski’s comment had a ‘racial tone’ and a ‘derogatory tone.’ … She told us that she was ‘extremely irritated’ by Mr. Guzowski’s comment,” the report says.
The woman’s account was corroborated by another African-American woman who was on the elevator and was offended by the comments, according to the report. The first woman complained to Guzowski later that day.
Guzowski regarded his comments as a joke and did not mean them in a derogatory way, he told investigators.
“That’s what I want to do on retirement … you have the opportunity to interface with people, chit-chat, learn things,” Guzowski said, according to the report.
Guzowski offended another woman at a lunch on the trip to Redstone. She was collecting money for the meal and complained that Guzowski tossed $10 and $5 bills in a disrespectful way. Investigators agreed that Guzowski failed to treat her with dignity. Guzowski could not recall the incident, according to the report.
Several women who worked in his office told investigators that Guzowski commented on their weight, “belly fat” and the need for at least one to go on a diet, the report says.
One woman quoted him as saying, “You should go ahead and do what I’m doing so that you can lose weight,” the report says. “She said she told Mr. Guzowski, ‘Really? Really?’ She told us that after he made the comment, she was ‘beside myself. I’m furious.’ ”
Guzowski denied making demeaning comments about the women’s weight, but he said he might have referred to “Dunlap Disease,” an expression about one’s belly lapping over one’s belt. Guzowski said he is often asked about his eating habits, which do not include bread or pasta, he told investigators.
Guzowski retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and has been a senior civilian official since 2004.
Source: Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: U.S. Army/Sgt. Destiny Mann