McKinney's Day of Reckoning

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WASHINGTON: There was good and bad news for Sergeant Major of the Army Gene McKinney. His investigator, Col. Robert Jarvis, recommended that the top enlisted soldier in the service be court-martialed over allegations of indecent assault, adultery and obstruction of justice — all as expected. But at least McKinney will escape an extra charge of rape, which Jarvis threw out.

What of McKinney's counter-allegation — that the charges against him are racially motivated? Mark Thompson, TIME's Pentagon correspondent, says that one won't fly, even though top brass wish it were true. "The Army would dearly have loved to avoid this case, which involves one of its most senior officers," says Thompson. "But now that there are six accusers, it would be hard for the investigating officer to recommend anything other than a court-martial." And when McKinney's lawyer threatened to go public with other cases of harassment in a tit-for-tat retaliation, today's outcome became inevitable. All McKinney can hope for now is that Major General Robert Foley — who will make the final decision on the case — may be somewhat more lenient than Jarvis.