Navy Officer Promoted despite Admitting he Sexually Abused his Daughter

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The U.S. Navy has launched an internal investigation into how an officer who admitted to sexually abusing his daughter, and allegedly abused his son, managed to escape punishment, and even get promoted.

 

The case of the lieutenant, whose identity was not reported by the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, first came to the attention of social workers four years ago. At that time, local investigators determined the allegations of abuse were legitimate.

 

In fact, the lieutenant signed a written decree crafted by child welfare officials in which he admitted to causing “moderate harm” towards his daughter.  (Child protective experts determined that the harm caused was “serious”—the most severe designation—but, on appeal, the level was apparently negotiated downward in return for his confession.)

 

This conclusion led to the officer’s name being added to Virginia’s State Child Abuse and Neglect Registry (pdf). He was barred from seeing his children until they turned 18.

 

The matter was reviewed by the Navy. But commanders determined no punishment was warranted, and the officer eventually received a promotion.

 

As for his family, they suffered financial hardships, resulting in losing their home and moving multiple times, until settling “in a cockroach-infested motel room at the Oceanfront, where they live among the homeless and drug addicts,” Bill Sizemore wrote for the Virginian-Pilot.

 

Things got even worse for the wife, who was found in contempt of court by a local judge overseeing her divorce. The charge was that her allegations about her husband were impeding his Navy career. She was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine or serve 10 days in jail.

 

Following the publication of the Virginian-Pilot’s story, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) decided to open an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against the lieutenant.

 

NCIS is also trying to find out why no investigation was conducted four years ago.

 

One veteran child-protection advocate has a theory. “The military is reluctant to make findings in any kind of sexual abuse cases,” Betty Wade Coyle, executive director emeritus of Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads, told the Virginian-Pilot. “Especially if it's an officer, it practically takes an act of Congress. Sometimes [the military will] identify with the perpetrator instead of the victim. They think: Why is this a charge? Why is this going to wreck the guy's career?”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Admitted Child Abuser Keeps His Navy Career (by Bill Sizemore, Norfolk Virginian- Pilot)

Reports of Military Sexual Assaults up by 50% as Top Navy Nominee Raises Ire (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Here’s Why the Navy’s Legal System is Incapable of Dealing with Sexual Assault Cases (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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