DOD: Navy sexual assault office director repeatedly violated travel reimbursement policy

DOD: Navy sexual assault office director repeatedly violated travel reimbursement policy

by Brock Vergakis
The Virginian-Pilot

The director of the Navy’s sexual assault and prevention office was wrongfully reimbursed more than $7,000 for travel after repeatedly violating government policies, according to a Department of Defense Inspector General report released Monday.

The report says Jill Vines Loftus booked more-expensive flights to Italy, Guam and Spain through an airline on which she earns personal frequent-flier miles when less-expensive flights were available through a government contract. The report also says she stayed in a more-expensive hotel in Bahrain than the contracted local lodging rate, parked in a more-expensive covered parking garage at Dulles International Airport near Washington than was authorized, and failed to submit receipts for about $2,700 in reimbursements she requested.

Loftus travels the world visiting sailors and Marines to review matters concerning sexual assault, prevention and response. She is the first person to hold the job, created by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in 2009.

She serves as Mabus’ principal point of accountability for all sexual-assault policy matters and as the primary resource for expert sexual-assault prevention and response assessment, program support and oversight, according to a Navy biography. Loftus suggested to investigators that a complaint was filed against her in retaliation for the work she does.

Loftus told investigators their initial findings were “inflammatory, insulting, condescending and disingenuous,” the report says.

“Am I being targeted due to the sensitive nature of my mission? Have I angered someone because … I am trying to hold accountable sexual predators in an organization that is predominately male?” Loftus asked.

Government investigators reviewed a sample of 11 of 26 trips taken by Loftus between Feb. 28, 2013, and Nov. 22, 2014. As a result of those findings, the report recommends auditing all official travel Loftus and her staff have taken to determine whether the government is owed money for reimbursements that were improperly granted.

The Navy has not said whether those recommendations were followed. The Defense Department report was dated June 16 and posted online Monday.

Other violations investigators found include renting a more-expensive car in Hawaii than offered by the Defense Travel System and charging the government for excessive fuel expenses and rewards-point transfer fees to her personal account during other trips. Loftus also requested and received reimbursement for business-class rail accommodations from Washington to Trenton, N.J., without authorization, according to the report.

The report says investigators carefully considered Loftus’ comments and provided “the broadest consideration with respect to several points she presented in her response.”

“We stand by our conclusion that Ms. Loftus failed to conduct (temporary duty) travel in accordance with DoD and other Government standards,” the report says.

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