The Air Force has stripped a retired four-star general of two ranks and docked him about $60,000 per year in pension payments after determining that he had coerced sex with a subordinate officer three times and told her that he would “deny it until the day he died,” USA TODAY has learned from documents and interviews.
The rare move means that retired Gen. Arthur Lichte, who had led the Air Mobility Command until 2009, will be demoted to major general and see his retirement pay dip from about $216,000 per year to $156,000. His case is the latest in a string of general officers to be sacked or demoted in the last year for sex scandals.
Lichte’s actions drew an extraordinary, stinging rebuke in a letter of reprimand in December from then-Air Force secretary Deborah James. James blasted Lichte for putting the officer “in a position in which she could have believed that she had no choice but to engage in these sex acts given your far superior grade, position, and significant ability to affect her career.”
James suggested Lichte, who is married, would have been court-martialed but that the statute of limitations of five years had lapsed. Lichte retired in 2010, but the Air Force began conducting an investigation in 2016 after it had received a complaint from the woman.
“You are hereby reprimanded!” James wrote, exclamation point hers, in the letter of Dec. 6, 2016. “Your conduct is disgraceful and, but for the statute of limitations bar to prosecution, would be more appropriately addressed through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
Lichte’s lawyer disputed the Air Force’s account of what took place and vowed to appeal its decision.
“My client did not commit a sexual assault and vehemently denies the unsworn allegations made against him regarding consensual events that happened over eight years ago,” Larry Youngner said in a statement. Lichte regrets his actions, is sorry for the pain he has caused his family and asked for privacy, Youngner said.
Source: USA Today | Tom Vanden Brook