Former Fort Carson commanding general punished for calling staffer 'sweetheart'

Former Fort Carson commanding general punished for calling staffer sweetheart

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A two-star general who recently headed the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson was denied a promotion to three-star after referring to a congressional staffer as "sweetheart" during a meeting in 2016.

That's according to military news outlet Stars and Stripes, which reports that Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves was administratively reprimanded after an investigation into the incident. His specific punishment, aside from being denied the promotion to lieutenant general, wasn't released by the Army.

It stems from a meeting in October 2016 between Gonsalves and office staff with Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) at Fort Carson. According to a report, Gonsalves called a female staffer "sweetheart," and commented on her age.

Gonsalves also told the staffer to take notes "since she was a Democrat and did not believe in funding the military," according to a report from the Army Inspector General.

Other staffers called Gonsalves' comments sexist, though others stood up for him as a professional. A complaint wasn't immediately filed about the exchange. However, Stars and Stripes reports that an anonymous complaint to the Army IG was made after reports surfaced that Gonsalves was up for a promotion to three-star general.

Gonsalves had testified that he didn't call the staffer "sweetheart," but the IG report says evidence didn't support "his recollection."

The Army IG recommended the report go to a Judge Advocate General for future action.

Gonsalves is currently serving in an assistant administrative role at Fort Hood, Texas.

However, not everyone agrees with the punishment, given the circumstances of the conduct. 

Colorado Springs resident Ken Boardman shared his thoughts. 

"The whole world would have been thrown in jail based on the new standard. I think we've gone to the extreme. I think there are cases [where this would be appropriate] but now, you're guilty until you're proven innocent," said Boardman. 

Others, though, are applauding the military's response.

"I absolutely think it was the right move by the military. They should be leading the fight against sexism," said Katie Howe. 

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