‘Substantiated finding’: Governor puts Utah National Guard commander on leave as Army concludes investigation

Gov. Spencer Cox appointed Brig. Gen. Daniel Boyack, who was serving as the commander of the Utah Air National Guard, as interim adjutant general over the Utah National Guard

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maj. Gen. Michael Turley salutes as Taps is played at the Memorial Day Ceremony on the steps of the Utah Capitol Building on Monday, May 29, 2023.

Gov. Spencer Cox has placed Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, who commands the Utah National Guard, on paid administrative leave following an investigation by the U.S. Army Inspector General.

“Utah National Guard Adjutant Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley has been under investigation by the Department of the Army Inspector General,” Cox said in a statement. “We have not received a copy of their report, but based on the information conveyed by the DAIG, Maj. Gen. Turley was put on paid administrative leave.”

According to a statement from the Utah National Guard, which said it was notified of the investigation Wednesday, it has also not received a report of the findings. That statement said that all inspector general investigations are kept confidential, and only those directly involved in the investigation have access to its details.

On Friday morning, a U.S. Army spokesperson told The Salt Lake Tribune that, “The United States Army Inspector General Agency has concluded its investigation into allegations against Maj. Gen. Michael Turley with a substantiated finding.”

USA Today reported that Turley had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, citing sources familiar with the investigation.

Sexual harassment and assault is a longstanding issue among the military’s ranks. According to the Defense Department’s most recent annual report on the matter, it received 8,942 reports of sexual assault involving service members — a 1% increase from the previous year.

Under Turley’s leadership, the Utah National Guard held a sexual violence awareness campaign in November 2021, and he joined Elizabeth Smart at a Camp Williams town hall meeting on the topic in spring 2022.

Turley greeted President Joe Biden last week when he landed in Utah, and was Sen. Mitt Romney’s guest at this year’s State of the Union address. During his visit, Biden focused on celebrating the anniversary of signing the PACT Act, which offers benefits to veterans exposed to toxins from burn pits, Agent Orange and other hazards.

“The Senator does not know the outcome of the investigation referenced, but he is obviously concerned by the reports. He appreciates Brigadier General Boyack’s leadership at this time,” a spokesperson for Romney said in a statement.

In a February statement, Romney said, “The Utah National Guard embodies our state’s core values of patriotism and dedication to service. Under the leadership of Major General Turley, these outstanding men and women have answered the call of duty to protect Utahns and Americans in times of emergency and responded valiantly to threats around the world. I am honored to have him as my guest to tonight’s State of the Union address.”

Cox appointed U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Boyack as interim adjutant general over the Utah National Guard. Boyack is the commander of the Utah Air National Guard and an assistant adjutant general. He began his career with the Utah Air National Guard in 1994.

“The UTNG is a resilient organization that is structured with subordinate leaders prepared to adapt to rapid change,” reads a statement from the Utah National Guard. “There will be no impact to the Utah Guard’s readiness or capabilities during a smooth transition of authority. The Utah National Guard remains fully operational, and all operations, events, and activities will be conducted as currently planned.”

Update, Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m. • This story has been updated to include a statement from the U.S. Army about the investigation.