Originally created 05/30/97

Eisenhower chief dismissed amidst sexual allegations



The commander of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center was relieved of his duties Thursday night, but will retain his general's star, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, 48, had been temporarily suspended May 12 pending an Army investigation into "unspecified and unsubstantiated allegations." The Army has refused to release any details about allegations against Brig. Gen. Xenakis.

The Associated Press reported that a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Brig. Gen. Xenakis, was relieved because of an "improper relationship" with a civilian nurse who had been caring for his ill wife.

"There is a further investigation ongoing," the official said, noting that Brig. Gen. Xenakis has not been charged with any criminal offense. The official declined to specify any other administrative actions taken against Brig. Gen. Xenakis, citing the Privacy Act.

Lt. Gen. Ronald R. Blanck, commander of the U.S. Army Medical command, made the decision Thursday to dismiss Brig. Gen. Xenakis, said Jennifer Chipman, public affairs officer for the hospital. It was also Lt. Gen. Blanck who suspended the one-star general earlier this month.

According to a one-paragraph statement released Thursday night, "on the advice of military attorneys, we can release no further details."

When the general was suspended, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, said the allegations against Brig. Gen. Xenakis involved "conduct unbecoming an officer that involved a member of the opposite sex."

Contacted at his Fort Gordon home Thursday night, Brig. Gen. Xenakis said he relinquished command on Memorial Day because of his wife's poor health.

"I personally relinquished command on Monday," he said. "My wife is extremely ill. Even though I did not know what the allegations are, and I still do not have a statement of them, in the best interest of my wife and caring for her, I elected to relinquish command."

Ms. Chipman confirmed that Brig. Gen. Xenakis sent a brief letter Monday to Gen. Dennis Reimer, chief of staff of the Army. Ms. Chipman did not know what the letter said or whether it played a role in Lt. Gen. Blanck's decision to dismiss Brig. Gen. Xenakis.

The Army has not yet chosen a new commander for the hospital, Ms. Chipman said. During Brig. Gen. Xenakis' suspension, Col. Walt Moore was appointed acting hospital commander and Col. George Masi as acting southeast regional medical commander. Col. Moore heads Eisenhower's directorate of medicine and Col. Masi is the hospital chief of staff.

Ms. Chipman did not know if the investigation would continue in light of Brig. Gen. Xenakis' dismissal.

"As far as I know, nothing has been determined yet," she said.

Though he has been relieved of duties as commander of Eisenhower, Brig. Gen. Xenakis has not been discharged from the Army. He will continue to be paid and for a short while will continue to live in his government housing at Fort Gordon, Ms. Chipman said.

Brig. Gen. Xenakis said he has not decided if he will retire from the Army or wait until the internal investigation is completed and seek an assignment elsewhere.

"My wife's undergoing chemotherapy for a real serious illness and I really need to ascertain what I'm going to do that's in her best interest and my children's best interest," he said. "Her health is my only concern."

Brig. Gen. Xenakis, a psychiatrist, has been in the Army for 25 years. He had been commander of Eisenhower since December 1995. In addition to commanding Eisenhower, Brig. Gen. Xenakis directed the implementation of Tricare - the Army's new health care system for soldiers' families and retirees - as southeast regional medical commander for the Army.

Officials at the Pentagon could not say when a general was last suspended.