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THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007
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Riley says Guard chief in sex flap to resign

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley said Wednesday he won't immediately remove the commanding general of the Alabama National Guard from his post, despite a report from the Army Inspector General's office that Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen had an improper relationship with a female officer that had a negative impact on his command.

Riley said Bowen has told him he intends to resign and that a search for a new adjutant general is under way. He said Bowen will remain in charge until a replacement is found.

The report, released this week by the Army, concluded that Bowen had a relationship with the female officer that included visits by Bowen to her home, more than 700 phone calls over five months last year and Bowen giving the woman financial assistance.

The woman's name and other information that might identify her was blacked out of the copy of the report released to The Associated Press after a Freedom of Information Act request.

"The evidence indicated that (name deleted) received preferential treatment because of her relationship with MG Bowen," the report said.

It went on to say that the officer was promoted by Bowen when she was ranked 24th among 39 people eligible. The report also said that at one point Bowen gave her a new job and failed to consider 13 other applicants for the position.

The investigation of Bowen, who is married, was conducted after the Alabama National Guard Inspector General's office received a complaint that Bowen had "an improper relationship" with a female officer in his command. The complaint was referred to the Army Inspector General's office.

The Inspector General did not recommend any disciplinary action against Bowen.

The findings of the Inspector General were first reported Wednesday by The Birmingham News.

A spokesman for the Alabama National Guard, Lt. Col. Robert Horton, said Bowen has not yet reviewed the Inspector General's report and would have no immediate comment. Horton said Bowen made his decision to step down in December and that it had nothing to do with the investigation.

Bowen was retired in 2003 when Riley became governor and asked him to return to active duty to serve as adjutant general, a Cabinet position. Riley and Bowen are both from Clay County.

Riley said Wednesday he had received a copy of the report, but did not comment on details of the investigation.

"General Bowen told me back in December or January that he's going to return to Clay County. I thank him for his service," Riley said.

The report concluded that there was no evidence that Bowen and the woman had a sexual relationship.

"Although there was evidence of physical contact between MG Bowen and (the woman) when he hugged and kissed her," the report said. It said there was evidence that Bowen kissed the woman on her lips in his office during the summer of 2006 and hugged her at an Army physical fitness test in May 2006.

The report said that phone calls and e-mails between Bowen and the woman were inappropriate because they were personal in nature.

The report said there were 10 witnesses who indicated that Bowen and the woman maintained a close personal relationship that was known throughout the Alabama National Guard.

"Evidence indicated the perceptions had a negative effect on the CMD (command) and morale in the ALNG (Alabama National Guard)," the report said.

'Got physical with her'

The report said the woman was uncomfortable with "the vast amount of calls she received from him" but continued the relationship until Bowen "got physical with her."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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