Navy chief tries to defend himself in Tailhook ruling

ADM. Frank Kelso II, the Navy's top uniformed officer, is publicly fighting claims that he knew about sexual misdeeds at the 1991 Tailhook aviators' convention and pulled rank to cover up his knowledge.

Admiral Kelso, chief of naval operations, authorized the Navy Feb. 14 to release statements by colleagues and supporters disputing a Navy judge's accusations last week that he manipulated the investigation.

The documents were made available to the news media as Navy Secretary John Dalton prepared an official report on Kelso's role in the Tailhook affair. The report, due to go to Defense Secretary William Perry this week, could determine whether the Navy's top admiral stays on until his planned retirement in June or is forced to resign in disgrace.

The documents appear to have been hastily assembled Feb. 10 and 11 following a Feb. 8 assertion by the Navy judge, Capt. William T. Vest Jr., accusing Kelso of covering up his knowledge of the misconduct at the Tailhook convention.

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