Last December, Gen. David Boyle sent a captain in the Missouri Army National Guard a letter of concern. It was after Capt. Heather Sexton had filed a sexual assault complaint against a fellow soldier. It was after a National Guard Bureau investigation had validated every element of Sexton’s story, but determined that the alleged assaulter wouldn’t be punished because investigators couldn’t determine his intent.
Boyle’s letter, sent to Sexton and every member of her unit, reprimanded them for drinking at a Guard organized function.
“I hope going forward you will exercise better judgment and comport yourself appropriately,” Boyle wrote.
Less than a year later, the military boot is on the other foot.
Early this month, Boyle submitted his resignation from the Guard, effective at the end of July, amid a federal Army Inspector General investigation into his use of electronic devices while on duty.
Multiple sources in the Missouri Guard confirm that in late May, Boyle’s phone and computer were confiscated, and he was removed from his command position as the Joint Task Force Commander of the Missouri National Guard. In that role, Boyle served as a top adviser to Adjutant General Stephen Danner, who has been the top general in the Missouri National Guard since January 2009.
According to Steele Shippy, communications director for Gov. Mike Parson, “There is an ongoing investigation into (the general’s) use of electronic devices.”
Parson’s office became aware of the investigation shortly after it learned of Boyle’s resignation, Shippy said. Because the resignation seemed abrupt — Boyle had toured flood-damaged areas with the governor a month earlier — Parson’s office asked command staff at the Guard for an explanation.
The investigation comes amid a likely time of change for the Guard.
After a decade in command that included multiple investigations into retaliation against whistleblowers, Danner will soon be leaving command. He has already retired his federal commission as a general and currently serves as the adjutant general in a civilian capacity. Parson is looking for a replacement.
It’s unclear what led to the federal investigation of Boyle. In an interview, he said he was unaware of any investigation.
“I’m simply retiring from the military,” Boyle said. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
Told that the governor’s office had confirmed a federal investigation, Boyle said: “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.”
Boyle, a brigadier general, first joined the Ohio Army National guard in 1980. He commanded the Missouri Agri-Business Development Team that served in Afghanistan and also commanded the 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team. In November 2009 he was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters in Jefferson City, and has been one of Danner’s top aides ever since.
Four times since he has been in a top position at Missouri National Guard Headquarters, the state’s Department of Revenue has served Boyle and his wife, Sandra, with tax liens alleging back taxes were owed. In 2010, according to state court records, the Boyles owed $5,814, and paid up a month after the lien was filed in state court, in Boone County, where they live.
In 2014, the couple owed more than $13,000; in 2017, they owed more than $10,000.
The most recent lien, filed in May 2018, was for $21,397.
Court records show all the liens except for the most recent have been paid off.
“I do not owe any taxes,” Boyle said. He declined to say what led to the multiple state liens for back taxes.
Neither Missouri Guard officials nor a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau would offer comment on the investigation or Boyle’s resignation.
When Boyle and Danner move on, perhaps unscathed by what has happened under their watch, they will leave behind a legacy of protection for loyalists at the expense of those who raised their voices seeking to enforce regulations against discrimination, sexual assault or failure to follow the law. From Heather Sexton to Michael Fayette to Michael Sandknop to James Tate, the result when one raises issues of mistreatment in the Missouri Guard — even after a complaint is validated — is to suffer what Fayette called in his federal whistleblower complaint a campaign of “reprisal, retaliation, intimidation and harassment.”
The generals who created and encouraged that environment will soon be gone.
They leave without so much as a letter of concern.