An Army colonel who oversees training for the Defense Department's equal opportunity programs was suspended Tuesday and is under investigation.
Army Col. Morris "Reese" Turner, commandant of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, was temporarily reassigned to other duties pending an investigation of alleged misconduct, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said Monday.
A source familiar with the investigation told Military Times that Turner's alleged misconduct involves "inappropriate touching."
Turner has denied any wrongdoing.
As head of DEOMI, Turner also was responsible for organizing the command climate surveys used in force-wide sexual assault prevention programs. The anonymous surveys are given to military units and the results help commanders identify problems or improve the command climate regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault in their units.
Once known as the Defense Race Relations Institute, DEOMI provides training programs for troops who serve as equal opportunity advisers and handle complaints of racial bias or improper treatment of people with physical disabilities.
Turner, a West Point graduate who has two Bronze Stars, assumed command of DEOMI in June. In a statement Wednesday, Turner's attorney rejected the allegations of misconduct and criticized the Defense Department's handling of the matter.
"Col. Turner categorically denies any allegation of wrongdoing and looks forward to his ultimate vindication of these baseless claims," said attorney Gary Myers.
"Making this public with no more than an allegation is yet one more example of command's fear of being accused of insensitivity to female claims of misconduct without regard to proof," Myers said in a statement provided to Military Times. "The pendulum has swung too far."
Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.