Pelosi calls on VA Secretary to resign over handling of sex assault allegations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is demanding that Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie resign after a watchdog report found that Wilkie mishandled an alleged sexual assault at a VA facility last year.

Democrats demand Wilkie resign

“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran,” Pelosi said.

“Secretary Wilkie has not only been derelict in his duty to combat sexual harassment, but has been complicit in the continuation of a VA culture that tolerates this epidemic,” Pelosi continued, adding, “He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) joined Pelosi’s call on Sunday, saying that Wilkie should “resign immediately.”

Multiple veterans groups have also called on Wilkie to step down following the release of the report.

Reported assault

The case stems from a sexual assault reported by Navy Reserve officer and Hill staffer Andrea Goldstein in September 2019 at the Washington Veterans Medical Center.

According to Goldstein, a hospital contractor allegedly “bumped his entire body against mine and told me ‘I looked like I needed a smile and a good time'” when she was a the facility waiting for a medical appointment.

Following an investigation, the contractor in question was not charged due to insufficient evidence.

OIG report released

A 68-page report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is where the allegations that Secretary Wilkie disparaged Goldstein originate.

The OIG concluded that “Wilkie and other VA officials privately disparaged the veteran,” but did not find evidence to confirm reports that he “investigated or asked others to investigate the veteran.”

Wilkie responds

For now, Wilkie is pushing back on the demands for his resignation. According to Fox News, Wilkie responded in a statement Friday, saying, “After nearly a year of investigation, interviews with 65 people and analysis of nearly 1.5 million documents, VA’s inspector general cannot substantiate that I sought to investigate or asked others to investigate the Veteran. That’s because these allegations are false.

“What’s more, the IG could not identify a single instance in which any VA employee violated any rule, regulation or policy,” he added. “If it had, it would have issued recommendations, which it did not.”

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