Updated at 2:16 p.m. EST
A former command chief who was fired from his leadership position at the 20th Fighter Wing in 2019 for creating a hostile work environment and treating Airmen unprofessionally and disrespectfully is still in uniform – and now superintendent of squadron at another base.
In October 2019, Chief Master Sgt. Jason Morehouse was quietly relieved of his post as draft leader at the 20th, headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, after four months on the job. Later that month, an Air Force investigation corroborated allegations of sexual harassment, racist remarks, discriminatory behavior against his black executive assistant and dereliction of duty.
A witness said Morehouse had previously referred to the glitter in his office as “stripper dust”. He made a joke about his hating wife when he came home from the strip club with glitter on his face, she told investigators, then made a gesture mimicking rubbing his face against his breasts to demonstrate what he meant.
Two witnesses told investigators Morehouse once said he would not be a good leader in physical training “because he would look at candidates’ buttocks all the time,” according to the investigative report. Morehouse made the comment during a discussion of the fitness assessments of wing personnel at the command section front office, he added. At least two witnesses believed his comment sexualized the airmen under his command.
The investigation also revealed that Morehouse likely discriminated against a black woman under his command and made several racist comments.
An unidentified black aviator, newly hired as an executive assistant, said Morehouse told him during a debriefing one day in September 2019, “You don’t act like a black girl.”
She told investigators she was taken aback and asked, “Well, how do black girls act? “
Morehouse then appeared to acknowledge that what he said was offensive and inappropriate, she said.
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The then Wing Commander Col. Derek O’Malley dismissed Morehouse from his post in 2019 after learning about the credible allegations and issued a no-contact order between Morehouse and the seven complainants. Investigators interviewed 11 witnesses and found them all to be credible.
The Air Force confirmed to Military.com that Morehouse is now the squadron superintendent of the 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The Squadron Superintendent is a special duty post assigned to senior NCOs who help organize and manage their squadrons, manage personnel issues, and mentor Airmen.
In a statement provided after the article’s initial publication, the 15th Air Force, which includes both Shaw and Davis-Monthan, said a full investigation has been carried out into the allegations against Morehouse.
“As a result of the investigation, appropriate administrative action was taken by the command, including the removal of Staff Sgt. Morehouse from his role as command chief at the 20th Fighter Wing,” said Major Docleia Gibson. in an email. “Administrative actions are a rehabilitative tool designed to allow Airmen to learn from their mistakes and grow. However, the details of these administrative actions are covered by the Privacy Act and may not be disclosed.”
Military.com also asked Davis-Monthan if Morehouse would like to comment, but received no response.
The 20th Fighter Wing and its F-16 Fighting Falcons accomplish the critical Air Force mission “Wild Weasel”. In a major conflict, the Wild Weasels would be tasked with destroying enemy air defenses on the surface before they could strike American or Allied planes. The wing’s F-16s also supported combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Morehouse, who entered active service in 1997, became the chief of the 20 command in June 2019. But during his four months there, he made a series of offensive statements and behavior that shocked and offended wing personnel, according to the investigation report. , obtained by Military.com through the Freedom of Information Act.
It made some women so uncomfortable that they tried to go into hiding to avoid it, according to the report. A witness said his behavior made her feel “scared” and used the term “predatory mood” to describe it. At least one whistleblower said some of his inappropriate sexual comments were made in the presence of junior airmen.
Morehouse’s sexually inappropriate jokes even extended to a memorial service in August 2019 at Shaw’s Chapel. While some airmen hugged in sympathy for the loss of another airman, he surprised them by telling them not to expect a hug from him.
“I don’t cuddle with clothes,” the report said, Morehouse explained.
And during a discussion about hiring a new executive assistant, a witness said Morehouse told him “he thought it would be better if he had a male executive assistant because he was a” dirty old man “.”
Witnesses told investigators Morehouse frequently called things “stupid” and made false hand movements while masturbating.
He also regularly made “that’s what she said” jokes, turning otherwise harmless statements into sexual double meanings, witnesses told investigators.
Witnesses said Morehouse did not appear to be giving his black executive assistant the same opportunities as his predecessor. She was not invited to any awards shows, welcome breakfasts or other events, they said, nor to enlisted briefings that would have been a good chance for Morehouse of the to guide. One witness suspected that the exclusion of the executive assistant was racially motivated, although others were not sure.
The investigator found that Morehouse treated her differently from her predecessor, who had been invited to leadership events.
“While part of this difference can be attributed to personality differences, I don’t think all disparate treatments can be dismissed so simply,” the investigator wrote.
On at least two occasions, witnesses said, Morehouse made jokes about Morehouse College, Georgia’s historically black men’s college.
“You know these are my people,” he said when someone else mentioned college in June 2019. “My middle name is Tyrone.”
Witnesses told investigators Morehouse changed his voice to a stereotypical black accent when he made the joke. He made the “Tyrone” joke again at a dinner party the following month, but the report does not say if he adopted the accent that time.
The report concluded that Morehouse’s racial comments showed that he held negative stereotypes about blacks, who denied African Americans under his command the right to equal opportunities without discrimination.
“These remarks, together with additional indications for disparate treatment of [other airmen] show more likely than not, CMSgt Morehouse was discriminated against [his executive assistant] on the basis of his race, ”the investigator wrote in the report.
The report also concluded that Morehouse had “intentionally breached” his duties by failing to act professionally and be a role model for his airmen, repeatedly making other immature or disrespectful comments.
For example, witnesses said Morehouse used the “delayed” insult and made hand gestures that appeared to mock people with disabilities. This deeply upset a woman from the Wing, whose brother is severely disabled.
Morehouse declined to be interviewed for the investigation, but provided written responses indicating primarily that he was joking or not remembering making the statements in question, according to the report.
In November 2019, the wing posted an interview with O’Malley and the new 20th command chief on his website on the need to treat staff with kindness and respect, and addressed Morehouse’s dismissal.
“I will never miss a problem when it is brought to my attention,” said O’Malley. “When members of our team, especially those in leadership positions, do not treat people with professionalism, kindness and respect, I have a responsibility to take action and, in some cases, remove it.”
Prior to his arrival at the 20th Fighter Wing and the investigation that followed, Morehouse himself wrote an essay, which the Air Force uploaded in January 2018, on the need for leaders to properly treat their subordinates and better train young airmen.
“The frontline supervisor has two tasks: to transform his subordinates into professional aviators and to develop these professional aviators to be excellent at their trade,” he wrote. “The relationship between the first line supervisor and the subordinate is very similar to the parent-child relationship. … We have to get it right. Today’s subordinates are tomorrow’s leaders and they rely on us to get it right today. “
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