General suspended in Georgia as Army conducts investigation Psychiatrist commands medical center; nature of allegations withheld


WASHINGTON -- An Army brigadier general who commands a medical center at Fort Gordon, Ga., has been suspended while the Army investigates unspecified allegations of wrongdoing.

Pentagon and congressional sources said one allegation involves complaints that the general made unjustified reassignments, and another that his conduct with a civilian woman was unbecoming to an officer. The sources provided no other details other than to say the allegations were not criminal.

"They do not involve sexual harassment as I understand it," said Virginia Stephanakis, a spokeswoman for the Army surgeon general, who declined to offer additional information.

The general, Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist who received his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1974, was suspended Monday as commander of the Eisenhower Medical Center and the Southeast Regional Medical Command by Lt. Gen. Ronald N. Blanck, the Army's surgeon general, officials said.

Jennifer Chipman, a spokeswoman for the medical center, said no further information would be released until the investigation was completed. The Army inspector general, who routinely handles cases involving generals, is heading the inquiry.

Xenakis, 48, who is married and has two children, told a Georgia newspaper, the Augusta Chronicle, that no one should presume that the allegations involve sexual harassment or misconduct.

"I'd tell them not to make any assumptions about that," he told the newspaper. "First of all, I'm not sure what the allegations are. I have an idea, but I think it's best if I don't say anymore."

Xenakis has been advised not to comment on the allegations, said his executive officer, Maj. Philip Kahue.

The suspension comes as the Army is reacting to numerous charges of sexual misconduct at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and at other Army bases. In addition, the Army's highest-ranking enlisted soldier, Gene McKinney, the sergeant major of the Army, was removed from his post and has been charged with sexual misconduct and indecent assault involving four servicewomen. McKinney has vigorously denied the allegations.

Xenakis, a native of the District of Columbia who graduated from Princeton University and was commissioned in 1972, took over the command of the medical center in December 1995.

Col. John A. Smith, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said it is "pretty rare" to suspend a general officer. Army officials could not recall the last time such action was taken.

Xenakis, whose specialty is child and adolescent psychology, has published numerous articles in professional journals and has received national awards recognizing his research. The general's military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He holds the Surgeon General's "A" Professional Designator for excellence.

On Monday, Blanck, the Army surgeon general, sent out an e-mail message about his decision to suspend Xenakis, according to a source. Although Stephanakis confirmed its wording, she said she was uncertain how widely the message was distributed.

The e-mail message said: "Today I suspended BGEN Stephen Xenakis from his position as commanding general, Eisenhower Army Medical Center, pending completion of investigations into allegations made about him. I took this step because I felt these allegations were sufficiently serious to potentially compromise his effectiveness as a commander and to maintain the integrity of the Army."

Xenakis' command at the Eisenhower Medical Center includes 1,800 employees.

Before coming to Eisenhower, Xenakis had medical commands at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas. He is a clinical professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and at the Medical College of Georgia.

Pub Date: 5/17/97

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad