Jon Wooditch, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ former top watchdog, resigned after being caught masturbating in the agency’s all-glass conference room in full view of people across the street, including school teachers at an education conference.
Wooditch, whose job as acting inspector general and deputy inspector general was to police waste and fraud cases at the notoriously troubled federal agency, resigned in 2008 after lying to investigators.
Those investigators confronted him with detailed instances of public masturbation in multiple states, according to a previously undisclosed report by the Department of the Interior inspector general and obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
It was during Wooditch’s tenure as deputy inspector general that the VA IG first uncovered — then all but ignored — dozens of clues of the widespread patient wait-list manipulation that contributed to the deaths of dozens of veterans.
In July 2005, with Wooditch as acting IG, his staff released a national audit of outpatient scheduling that mentioned false appointment dates were being entered and that secret waiting lists existed, but merely recommended better training and monitoring.
The VA wait-list scandal erupted into the national headlines in 2013 and led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shenseki in 2014. Congressional investigations of the scandal continue to this day.
Wooditch seemed to have had his hands full with other matters.
He was caught with porn on his work computer in 2003, but VA officials only “counseled” him. Not long afterward, he was promoted to the top job, which he had for about six months. He returned to his post as deputy IG after the Senate confirmed George J. Opfer as permanent IG in November 2005.
Wooditch retired with a federal pension without ever facing administrative discipline or criminal charges. He had testified repeatedly before Congress about integrity at the VA.
It was in July 2008 when multiple teachers attending a conference at the Renaissance Hotel — next to the IG’s Washington, D.C. headquarters — noticed a man looking at them and masturbating across the alley. The teachers observed him doing it repeatedly during their week-long stay.
One of the teachers “described Wooditch’s behavior as being progressive. She said that during the week, he went from rubbing himself over the top of his clothes to disrobing and fondling his penis,” according to the investigative report.
On Monday morning he would “peer out the window in the direction of the hotel… while fondling himself and/or masturbating.” Shortly after, the teachers saw him attend a business meeting in the same room. Tuesday went similarly; on Wednesday afternoon, Wooditch was in the conference room wearing exercise clothes, and took them off and put them back on multiple times in between masturbation sessions.
On Thursday morning, two women “woke up early to leave the hotel by 7 a.m. for a function. They both said they observed, independently of one another, Wooditch alone in the VA-OIG conference room naked from the waist up.” Teachers would later pick Wooditch out of a photo lineup.
The women separately alerted hotel security, which called the VA building’s security. At that point, a VA IG staffer took the alert to senior management — which was Wooditch.
Bizarrely, instead of sitting on the complaint, Wooditch assigned an investigative unit to track down the offender, as if he either wanted to be caught or didn’t think the IG apparatus would pursue the matter.
After surveillance video led investigators to their own boss, the investigation was turned over to the Department of Interior IG.
When he was questioned by DOI IG agents, Wooditch “vehemently” denied wrongdoing and called the witnesses “mistaken.” He said, “I do not admit to doing it. I don’t think I did it… I don’t remember even being in there,” according to the report.
He refused to take a lie detector test. “Agents asked Wooditch why, given that the VA-OIG routinely employed the polygraph, he did not believe in its accuracy. Wooditch stated, ‘I don’t trust the machines.'”
DOI IG agents also learned during their investigation of a separate incident in Wooditch’s hometown of LeMoyne, Pa. In 2006, they were told, he made an “inappropriate advance” on his next-door neighbor as she was grieving her husband’s death.
“She thwarted Wooditch’s romantic advances. Approximately a day or two later, she said Wooditch began to pose nude and masturbate in front of a window that was only viewable from her house” repeatedly, the report said.
The woman was one of his wife’s closest friends, and “did not want to file a formal complaint, based on her friendship with Wooditch’s wife,” but did have police warn him to stop. Wooditch lectured the police that he was a “high-level government employee.”
When confronted with this additional incident, Wooditch turned in his retirement paperwork.
Reached by phone by The Daily Caller News Foundation at home, Wooditch denied everything, saying “I don’t have any comment at all. I didn’t resign, I just retired. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never done that.”
Federal officials stalled on releasing the IG report after it was sought more than two years ago by this reporter in a Freedom of Information Act request. The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained the report last week through a source who is a current government employee.
VA IG spokesman Cathy Gromek told TheDCNF that “the current leadership at the VA OIG had no knowledge of this situation until very recently.”
Gromek was puzzled by Wooditch’s promotion after the 2003 workplace porn incident because Wooditch was a member of the career federal workforce’s elite Senior Executive Service, which have “a critical element in their performance plans that requires holding people accountable for performance and conduct.”
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