GETTYSBURG, PA—Viewing porn at work has claimed another victim—this time the long-time superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, John Latschar. The 15-year veteran superintendent on Thursday told reporters he has been reassigned to a desk position after acknowledging in a sworn statement that he used a work computer to view more than 3,400 sexually explicit images between August 2004 and September 2006. There have been no suggestions Latschar viewed any under-age content.
The Park Service will neither confirm nor deny the reassignment, saying it is a personnel issue. However, published reports indicate Latschar conceded he violated federal rules when confronted with an internal report outlining infractions. The report was prepared by the Interior Department's inspector general following a year-long investigation.
According to a Washington Post article, “Latschar told the Evening Sun in Pennsylvania that he was being reassigned because of the disclosure of his internet activity. He added that 'there's no excuse' for the behavior but that he was ‘going through some rough personal and professional times’ during the two years he searched for the images.”
The Post reported Latschar became a polarizing figure during his tenure as superintendent, noting his most controversial action occurred nearly a decade ago when he successfully pushed to allow commercial development of the 5,900-acre national park.
“At the heart of the development was a new visitors center and museum that Latschar, who has a doctorate in American history, said would be fully financed by a private foundation that he helped create,” the Post reported. “However, by the time the museum opened in the spring, costs had jumped from $39.3 million to $135 million, requiring $35 million in public funds.”
Ironically, Latschar was also the recipient of a National Trust for Historic Preservation award Oct. 15, for his work restoring the 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Park. Latschar was one of 23 award winners honored by the organization during its 2009 National Preservation Conference in Nashville.
“John Latschar’s contributions to historic preservation cannot be overstated,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “His work has preserved and rehabilitated Gettysburg’s sacred ground and transformed the experience of visiting the battlefield for millions of annual visitors. Through his leadership at Gettysburg, he is saving one of America’s most important historic treasures and serving as a model for many more.”
Latschar also was named “Preservationist of the Year” by the Civil War Preservation Trust in July for directing “a massive landscape restoration project across the battlefield, as well as the planning and construction of a new Visitor Center.”