Defense Department file photo

Army Watchdog Executive Found to Have Sexually Harassed, Insulted Colleagues

Unwanted kissing and racially loaded comments denied by accused.

A Senior Executive Service member in the Army inspector general’s office failed to treat his colleagues with “dignity and respect” in several instances involving unwanted kissing and racially tinged insults, according to a newly released report from the Pentagon inspector general.

Months of interviewing in response to complaints from several employees going back to 2012 resulted in an IG report substantiating misconduct by Joseph Guzowski, principal director to the Army inspector general for inspections. A retired Army lieutenant colonel who made SES in 2004 and became the Army’s principal deputy chief of legislative liaison, Guzowski denied the accusations.

The complaints by several co-workers centered around an unwanted kiss, two instances of allegedly touching his female colleagues’ buttocks, off-the-cuff comments implying racial stereotypes, inappropriate comments about eating and an insulting gesture.

The first complaint from April 2012 involved a restaurant meal in Alexandria, Va. Guzowski is alleged to have promised the female colleague he would protect her and asked her to join him after duty hours for a celebratory drink and work-related discussion. “How about we go home change out of your work clothes and I’ll change and we’ll meet back [at the restaurant],” he said, according to the complainant. She said she told him, “There was no way I’m doing that. If you want to buy me a drink and we’ll talk about these [special protector issues]...[w]e can do that on the way home, but I’m not going to go home, and change into girl clothes, and meet you at the [restaurant].” She said she then asked him, “Where is your wife?”

After a drink in the restaurant bar—during which Guzowski made the complainant uncomfortable by allegedly asking her to remove her jacket—she said she reluctantly agreed to let him drive her home. “After Mr. Guzowski pulled into her driveway, they both exited his vehicle and Mr. Guzowski approached her as she stood at the front of his vehicle,” said the IG report, dated Jan. 9. “She told us that she initially believed Mr. Guzowski was about to wish her a good night, but without any warning or her consent, Mr. Guzowski leaned toward her and kissed her on her mouth. Complainant 1 demonstrated to our investigators how she used her hand to wipe the kiss from her mouth and stared at Mr. Guzowski to express her disapproval. She told us that Mr. Guzowski returned to his vehicle and departed without having said anything to her after the kiss.”

A few days later, according to the same complainant, Guzowski briefly, in passing her in an office doorway, rubbed his hand on her buttocks.

That sort of touching was also reported, in December 2016, by a separate complainant, who saw Guzowski at an event in Arlington, Va.

Still another female employee, an African American who encountered Guzowski at an Army Materiel Command conference in Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in July 2016, said he entered an elevator with her and commented that “she was either an ‘elevator boy’ or that she was an ‘elevator attendant.’ She told us Mr. Guzowski’s comment had a ‘racial tone’ and a ‘derogatory tone,’ ” the report said.

Also in July 2016 at the arsenal, Guzowski is reported to have asked a colleague to make an advance payment for his lunch at a professional development session at which he was presenting. After she reminded him of his debt for the pre-ordered lunch multiple times, he allegedly put her off. Then, she said, as she sat at a table, “My back was to him, and about maybe three-quarters of the way into his presentation, as I'm taking notes, I see a [$10 bill] and a [$5 bill] come over my shoulder and land on the table.” She said, “I immediately [turned] to see where the money was coming from, and I realized that [Mr. Guzowski] had...tossed, flung, threw the money over my shoulder onto the table.”

Finally, another complainant criticized Guzowski for commenting on female colleagues’ diets and “belly fat.” At one point, he allegedly said, “Speaking of weight, you know, you should go ahead and do what I’m doing so that you can lose weight.”

 She said she told Mr. Guzowski, “Really? Really?” She told the IG that after Guzowski made the comment she was “beside myself. I’m furious,” investigators wrote.

In October 2017, Defense IG investigators showed Guzowski a letter summarizing their findings. He denied that any of the reported misbehavior had occurred. On the unwanted kiss, “We asked Mr. Guzowski whether he drove Complainant 1 home and kissed her as she stood in her driveway and he responded, ‘Not even.’ Mr. Guzowski told us that he did not remember kissing Complainant 1. He told us that his physical contact with Complainant 1 occurred “at DAIG social events if she came up and gave me a hug or shakes my hand.”

The accused also asserted that the complainants did not follow required reporting procedures regarding his alleged actions.

The Defense IG stood by its substantiation of the complaints and recommended that the Army IG take action.