As a defense attorney, it is really frustrating to see this situation happening time and time again – but once again it has happened to another one of my clients: My client, a Naval officer (0-2E with 19 years of service), was involved in a relationship with an 0-2, both assigned to the same ship. It was one of those relationships that never should have gotten off the ground – a lot of on again-off again issues that found their way on board the ship. Things culminated with an accusation of an assault while my client was on duty, resulting in a command directed investigation. It boiled down to a lot of she said-he said, which is typical; however the female officer provided false information to the investigation officer, as well as to the executive officer concerning the nature of the relationship.
My client was taken to Captain’s Mast for assault (2 specifications) and conduct unbecoming an officer and Detached for Cause from the command. His promotion to 0-3 was also put on hold. Understand, the maximum punishment for assault at a court-martial is 6 months of confinement, in comparison to the maximum punishment for false official statement is 5 years of confinement. Not many officers could avoid serious consequences if they intentionally lied during an official investigation, or intentionally lied to the XO – how about intentionally lying to both of them; for any officer, that could easily be the end of their career, a significant integrity violation, especially for an officer holding a TS-SCI security clearance - except apparently if the officer is a female in today’s environment and is an alleged victim of a domestic assault!
This officer was not taken to Mast, she was not reported for a security clearance incident, she was not DFC’d, she did not get a Letter of Reprimand – none of the above, but she has been selected for advancement to 0-4. My client on the other-hand was directed by PERS to Show Cause for retention based upon allegations of misconduct and substandard performance of duty. Luckily, the government recorder thought it was a wise move to call the LT (alleged victim) to testify telephonically – ended up not being such a wise move for the government. I had a few questions for her – and after my extensive cross examination of her, the government rested its case.
I have represented many clients before Boards of Inquiry, but not once have I seen a board do what this board did – after the government rested, and before I called any witnesses including my client, the board announced that they had heard enough – the government had not proven any misconduct or substandard performance; they voted for NO MISCONDUCT and NO SUSTANDARD PERFORMANCE. Regrettably my client still has the Mast and DFC on his record which we now need to petition the Board for Correction of Naval Records to remove.