02.19.19

Ranking Member Stabenow Responds to Forest Service Sexual Misconduct Report

USDA Inspector General report, requested by Stabenow and other members of Congress, examines 11 cases of sexual misconduct, finds evidence of policy violations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, issued the following statement regarding the release of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General report to evaluate whether the U.S. Forest Service effectively implemented initiatives to address the agency’s longstanding history of sexual misconduct.

“I asked the Inspector General to conduct this audit because of longstanding reports of harassment and abuse at the Forest Service,” said Stabenow. “The report confirmed persistent patterns of sexual harassment and misconduct and a failure of the USDA to address this abuse in multiple cases. I intend to continue to use my oversight powers over the Department to ensure that the Inspector General’s recommendations are thoroughly implemented and that the culture of the Forest Service is changed once and for all.”

The new report, requested by Stabenow and a bipartisan group of members of Congress in 2016, examined 11 cases of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct in the Pacific Southwest region of the Forest Service. The Inspector General found evidence that the Forest Service failed to address workplace concerns in several cases, including: promoting employees with prior histories of sexual misconduct and harassment, failing to report complaints in a timely manner, and inadequately documenting justifications for disciplining misconduct at less than the recommended penalty.