A four-star general, who has been accused without evidence of sexual assault, repeatedly implored the accuser to get mental health help months before she began her campaign against him and other top brass in the office. That’s according to a March 2018 personal counseling statement by Air Force Gen. John Hyten that was included in a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation.
Col. Kathryn Spletstoser has attempted to derail the nomination of the general to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by privately and publicly claiming without evidence that he sexually assaulted her. She had previously made dozens of unsubstantiated claims against Hyten and others at U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM).
The New York Times and other media outlets published her lurid and defamatory claims despite the fact that a military team of 53 investigators was unable to find any corroboration for them — even after interviewing 63 people in three countries and 14 states, reviewing more than 196,000 emails, 4,000 pages of documents, 152 travel records, and phone records dating to 2015, and conducting forensic analysis.
The lack of substantiation has not stopped the media and other liberal groups from treating the claims as credible.
The US military has a sexual assault epidemic. And now they’re promoting General John Hyten—currently being accused of sexual assault—as candidate for military leadership. Tell your Senators today: Oppose Hyten & demand investigation NOW! #BelieveSurvivorshttps://t.co/tOmqF9Esx7 pic.twitter.com/zQOMbhP8wm
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) August 13, 2019
Yet a personal counseling statement in a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation shows that Spletstoser was advised in March 2018 to get help for her anger issues and vindictiveness. She was warned to cease making retaliatory threats and told repeatedly that her recorded outbursts meant she could no longer work in the leadership team she served at STRATCOM.
The statement from Hyten, which was read to Spletstoser in the presence of three senior STRATCOM officials, recounts bizarre behavior observed by her peers in the early months of 2018. Investigators determined Spletstoser was a toxic leader, a finding that would lead to her removal as director of the Commander’s Action Group at STRATCOM. Following that firing, Spletstoser sent suicide notes to colleagues and told Hyten over the phone of her suicidal ideation.
“You told me if you had a gun, it would already be done,” Hyten recounted, with specific details of Spletstoser’s claims. “You screamed at me about this being all my fault and then screamed that I would have to live with it and I could think about this at your funeral, then hung up.”
Military and local police searched for Spletstoser, eventually finding her at her home. A few days later, according to Hyten, she sent a note saying she was not and never had been suicidal, simply crying for help. “I will never get over the phone call and then your admittance to me almost immediately after the fact that you were simply ‘crying for help,'” he said, adding that he wanted to help her get better.
A February 26, 2018, incident report from the Omaha police department recorded that Omaha police officers were dispatched to Spletstoser’s apartment the day of her firing “for a report of a suicidal party” and were met by Offutt Air Force Base Security Forces. Omaha police were told that Spletstoser “had stated that she was going ‘to kill [herself].” Office of Special Investigations agents said Spletstoser had told Hyten he “[had] 24 hrs. to rectify the situation, or [she] was going to kill [herself] with a family firearm.”
For her part, Spletstoser denies ever claiming to be suicidal and says the details in the personal counseling statement are “inaccurate” and “out of context.” She added, “Gen Hyten’s statement to me that you are referring to was already discredited in the multiple investigations after the one you may be referring to. The facts clearly show I didn’t make those allegations outlined but was a witness and provided insight into what I reported to the chain of command.”
Toxicity and Anger Management
An Air Force investigation found no merit to the dozens of unsubstantiated claims Spletstoser made in the last couple of years, as well as a history of unsubstantiated claims levied against supervisors. Colleagues of Spletstoser say she had anger issues, bullied subordinates, and is lying about her supervisors.
Back in March 2018, Hyten wrote, “I will never be able to trust you and work with you again. You will not work with me anymore, ever. I cannot be constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if you are about to blow up again,” he said, adding that he saw her “blow up many times over the last few months.”
“The last few times you came into my office, do you even realize how loud you were screaming at me? We are in a SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility] and everybody in the entire front office area could hear you screaming at me and what you were saying. They were actually concerned for my safety, including my personal security detail,” he wrote. “I don’t even know if you realize how loud and aggressive you are.”
Another eerie vignette was described by Hyten in the personal counseling statement. When a colleague came in to the SCIF to “check if everything was all right, you calmed down almost immediately, saying, quietly calmly, everything was fine. That was almost as strange as the screaming itself,” he said.
He also quoted from an email Spletstoser sent, which he said concerned him. The email read, “I will never forget or likely ever forgive anyone here for how I was treated here.” Hyten responded, “Threats like this are way over the top and cannot be ignored.”
Hyten was supportive, however, and encouraged Spletstoser to retire. “This would allow you to move on after 28 years of dedicated, honorable service. This doesn’t mean your talents can’t still be brought to bear in many areas in this country.” He encouraged her to get treatment. “I want you to be able to deal with your anger and be productive for the rest of your life.”
A few months later, Spletstoser would begin to make unsubstantiated allegations against Hyten and other supervisors at STRATCOM.
Heidi Brown, a retired U.S. Army major general who worked with both Hyten and Spletstoser, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “For the good of the country, for the good of actual sexual assault survivors, and for the good of due process and other values we hold dear, the Senate should confirm Gen. Hyten as vice chairman. For the same reasons, the Army should investigate Col. Spletstoser for perjury under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
Even Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, conceded that Spletstoser’s claims had been investigated in an “extensive” review and that there had been no corroboration for her claims. By comparison, when Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused without evidence of sexual assault following his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Hirono responded by saying men need to “shut up and step up.” For her to emphasize the lack of corroboration for Hyten is particularly significant given her low standard of evidence for belief for accusations.
Senate aides echo the call to hold Spletstoser accountable. “She has held Congress hostage for months. She has held the military [Inspector General] system hostage for a year. Nobody has been able to validate a single thing she has claimed. There is more evidence of her perjuring herself before Congress than of wrongdoing by Gen. Hyten or other STRATCOM officials she has accused,” one senior Senate aide said.