WASHINGTON (AP) — An Army major general has been stripped of his stars and forced out of the military after a 30-year military career because of a long extramarital affair and "swinger" lifestyle.
An Army spokesman says Maj. Gen. David Haight was demoted by three steps to the rank of lieutenant colonel, a steep and rare downgrade for a senior officer.
The demotion will cost him more than $40,000 in annual retirement pay, based on pay scales for a lieutenant colonel and a two-star general with 30 years in the Army. And it slams the door on what was once a promising career.
Army Secretary Eric Fanning approved the board's recommendation and made the final decision. The spokesman was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke anonymously.
An Army inspector general investigation concluded that Haight had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who was not his wife, and that he misused government resources, including a department cell phone and computer, for a "high volume" of personal calls and emails.
A demotion of three grades is unusual, and is based on Army regulations that require a three-member board to determine an officer's retirement rank when the person has been found guilty of misconduct. The board had to decide whether Haight served satisfactorily in his current rank, and if not, he could be demoted to the last rank in which his service would be considered satisfactory.
The demotion suggests that the board concluded that Haight's misconduct stretched back through his time as colonel and was serious enough to make retirement at the more senior grades not possible.
Under the regulations, "one specific act of misconduct may or may not form the basis for a determination that the overall service in that grade was unsatisfactory, regardless of the period of time served in grade."
The investigation, which was launched in January, was triggered by anonymous complaints sent to then-Gen. Philip Breedlove, who was the top U.S. general for NATO at the time, and to the Army and Defense Department inspectors general.
According to the report, Haight was verbally counseled at least twice by a senior officer in November 2015 after initial complaints were filed and before the full investigation began. The counseling, it said, included assistance for possible marital problems, the perception of a relationship with someone who was not his wife, and other personal issues.
In December more anonymous allegations of misconduct came in, and one included a sexually explicit photograph. And the inspector general ordered a full investigation on Jan. 4.
The probe revealed that Haight conducted an affair for nearly 11 years, and also at times was involved in a "swinger" lifestyle. He was married during the entire time of the relationship, and has four children.
According to the report, Haight reminded the woman a number of times to communicate with him through another email address because his government accounts were monitored.
"I really would prefer all this traffic be on other net," he wrote in one email, cited by the report.
The report found that between June-November 2015 he called the woman — who was a government contractor — more than 80 times from his government cellphone, for a total of more than 1,400 minutes of conversation. It also found that they exchanged more than 800 personal emails between October 2010 and November 2015, including many that were sexually explicit. Often he signed them with "ILY," an abbreviation for "I love you."
Haight had been serving as director for operations at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. He was pulled from the job and has been working as a special assistant to the Army deputy chief of staff for military operations.
He was commissioned in 1986 at Brigham Young University and later was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, an Army special operations unit. And he served several combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.