The commanding general of the Alabama National Guard, Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen, resigned Thursday, one day after the Army released a report that Bowen had an improper relationship with a female officer in his command, the Army Times reported on Thursday.
A news release from Gov. Bob Riley said he had accepted Gen. Bowen’s resignation. The governor's statement did not mention the report from the Army Inspector General’s office.
"General Bowen has served the state over six different decades in the National Guard and has done a good job. I respect his decision to leave at this time," Gov. Riley said.
Both Gov. Riley, whom we've written about before, and Gen. Bowen are Freemasons. They are lodge brothers in Ashland Lodge No. 356 in Ashland (Clay County), Alabama as well as the Scottish Rite Valley of Montgomery.
The governor said Wednesday that Bro. Bowen told him earlier that he planned to retire. Bro. Riley said he would not ask Bro. Bowen to step down immediately because of the report.
The Army’s report said that Bro. Bowen had a relationship with the female officer. He had visited her home, had more than 700 phone calls with her over five months last year, and had given her financial assistance.
The report concluded that there was no evidence that Bro. Bowen and the woman had a sexual relationship, "although there was evidence of physical contact between MG Bowen and [the woman] when he hugged and kissed her."
The report said she “received preferential treatment because of her relationship with MG Bowen.” The woman's name was redacted in the report.
She received a promotion when she was ranked 24th among 39 officers eligible. The report also said that at one point Bro. Bowen gave her a new job and failed to consider 13 other applicants for the position.
The report indicated there was evidence that Bro. Bowen kissed the woman on her lips in his office during the summer of 2006 and hugged her at an Army physical fitness test in May 2006. The phone calls and e-mails between Bowen and the woman were called "inappropriate because they were personal in nature."
The report said there were 10 witnesses who indicated that Bro. Bowen and the woman maintained a close personal relationship that was known throughout the Alabama National Guard.
“Evidence indicated the perceptions had a negative effect on the [command] and morale in the [Alabama National Guard],” the report said.
The woman, the report says, was uncomfortable with "the vast amount of calls she received from him" but continued the relationship until Bowen "got physical with her."
Bro. Bowen retired in 2003, but returned to duty when Bro. Riley asked him to serve as adjutant general, a Cabinet position. This Google cache (look about 75% of the way down the page) identifies Bro. Bowen as a "pharmacist and farmer."
Image: Gen. Mark Bowen, from his official Alabama webpage
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