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Accuser says ex-top soldier told her to downplay talks

The former top enlisted man in the Army told a young female sergeant he is accused of sexually accosting to explain her frequent conversations with him as nothing more than career advice, the woman testified Tuesday.

The woman said Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney pursued her for more than two years, making crude pleas for sex and even propositioned her while his wife stayed at the bedside of their dying son, Sgt. Christine Fetrow testified in McKinney's sexual misconduct court-martial.Fetrow, the first of McKinney's accusers to testify, agreed to let Army investigators put a tape recorder on her home telephone and record calls from McKinney shortly after the accusations against him first surfaced a year ago.

"Well, all you have to do is tell them that we talked a lot," McKinney was heard saying on a tape played in court Tuesday. "You call the office sometime because you want to talk about career development and that kind of stuff. That's it. That's all they need to know," he said.

The tape is the basis of an obstruction of justice charge against McKinney, who also faces 18 other counts related to accusations by six women.

"What they are trying to do is make me look like I am a bad guy," McKinney said on the tape. The investigation began "because of this one sergeant major who just outright hated my guts because she couldn't live up to the standard."

The disgruntled former employee was not named in the tape, but it is an apparent reference to Sgt. Maj. Brenda Hoster, who was the first woman to come forward with the accusations. Hoster, now retired, is also scheduled to testify against McKinney.

McKinney's attorney began cross-examining Fetrow Tuesday morning.

In testimony Monday, Fetrow claimed McKinney once cornered her in his Pentagon office, pressed his pelvis into her and told her he was sexually aroused.