Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie disparaged a veteran who claimed she was sexually assaulted at a VA hospital and sought to undermine her credibility, a new investigation from the department's inspector general has found. The report did not, however, substantiate reports that Wilkie actively investigated the former service member or ordered others to look into her background.
The VA IG has since February been investigating allegations that Wilkie took steps to discredit Andrea Goldstein, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer and adviser to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, after she said she was groped at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. in September.
In a report released Thursday, Inspector General Michael Missal said his office could not substantiate the charge that Wilkie actively sought proof that Goldstein had filed "at least six equal employment opportunity-type complaints" while she was on active duty.
But the VA IG did find that VA officials began to take actions within hours of Goldstein's report that appeared to seek reasons to undermine her credibility. According to the investigation, the same day as the complaint, they began discussing whether Goldstein had complained about verbal abuse from a VA provider. And, the probe found, they ran a background check on Goldstein and circulated the findings before a background check was conducted on the accused, and later launched a media campaign to question Goldstein's credibility, targeting nine national press outlets.