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Head of US forest service resigns over misconduct allegations

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Head of US forest service resigns over misconduct allegations

The head of U.S. Forest Service announced on Wednesday he was resigning from his post amid sexual misconduct allegations. 

“I have decided that what is needed right now is for me to step down as Forest Service Chief and make way for a new leader that can ensure future success for all employees and the agency,” Chief Tony Tooke said in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. 

The outlet reported that the email referenced recent “news reports” about misconduct allegations at the agency and “references to my own behavior in the past.”

“I cannot combat every inaccuracy that is reported in the news media,” he wrote. 

Tooke reportedly applauded women who have come forward to speak out against sexual misconduct in the email.

“I admire their courage,” he said. “Their stories are heartbreaking and reveal that we must do much to achieve a safe, positive, and respectful work environment for all employees.” 

PBS was the first outlet to report on the resignation and first reported that Tooke was under investigation. 

The Department of Agriculture, which oversees the agency, said last week “engaged an independent investigator” to probe complaints against Tooke. 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledged Tooke’s resignation in a statement on Wednesday.

“Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke today tendered his resignation, which I accepted,” he said.

“The Forest Service is filled with dedicated employees from across this nation who devote their lives to promoting healthy and productive forests for the benefit of taxpayers and our environment. In my experience, in order to effectively lead any organization, you must have the moral authority to inspire its members to work toward the goal of continuous improvement. Chief Tooke has determined that it is best for the Forest Service, its future, and its employees that he step aside. I thank him for his decades of service to this nation and to the conservation of its natural resources.”

 

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