Admiral retires over inappropriate professional relationship

Admiral retires over inappropriate professional relationship
Copyright 2019 CNN
Vice Admiral William Moran steps down, deciding not to take job as Chief of Naval Operations.

A US Navy vice admiral who was set to become the branch’s top uniformed officer is instead retiring after his judgment was questioned over a professional relationship he maintained with a former Navy public affairs official who left the Navy after an investigation into alleged incidents of sexual misconduct.

Vice Adm. William Moran decided to retire rather than take on the role of chief of naval operations due to a situation where he “maintained a professional relationship with an individual who was held accountable and counseled for failing to meet the values and standards of the Naval profession,” according to a statement by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, which “caused me to call his judgment into question.”

Moran’s resignation stems in part from Moran keeping in contact with Chris Servello, a former Navy public affairs official whose allegations of misconduct were the subject of a wider investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General looking into the handling of that incident by Adm. John Richardson, the current Chief of Naval Operations. Servello has since retired from the Navy.

Additional details, including the nature of the relationship between Moran and Servello, were not immediately clear.

CNN has reached out to the Pentagon for additional comment. The vice admiral’s departure comes at a time when the Pentagon continues to operate without a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense. Many other senior military roles remain unfilled or are filled by officials in acting roles.

“While I admire his faithful service and commitment to the Navy, this decision on his part to maintain that relationship has caused me to call his judgment into question,” Spencer writes.

Moran said in a separate statement he “made this difficult decision based on an open investigation into the nature of some of my personal email correspondence over the past couple of years and for continuing to maintain a professional relationship with a former staff officer, now retired, who had while in uniform been investigated and held accountable over allegations of inappropriate behavior.”

He continued, “To be clear, my decision to maintain this relationship was in no way an endorsement or tacit approval of this kind of conduct.”

“I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unrecognized and unchecked,” Moran writes. “Every Sailor is entitled to serve in an environment free of harassment or intimidation.”

Both statements note the situation arose from a professional relationship over the course of Moran’s career with the Navy, and was not a private relationship.

The current Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, who was expected to retire once Moran assumed the role, will continue in his role until a replacement is named.