Navy Times recently reported, "The commander of a multi-billion dollar American warship was fired on the eve of its Middle East deployment last year after a drunken night out with his subordinates led to allegations of sexual harassment, Navy Times has learned.
Capt. Brian Sorenson’s 25-year military career began to unravel Aug. 30, when he and several junior officers assigned to the cruiser Anzio attended a "wetting down" party at a bar in Yorktown, Virginia. He is accused of engaging in a highly inappropriate conversation with a woman who worked for him, allegedly propositioning her for sex in exchange for career advancement, according to a Navy investigation report obtained Thursday via the Freedom of Information Act.
The report also includes allegations from a female officer who told investigators that Sorenson grabbed her buttocks while they were in the bar. It is unclear if the complaint was made by the same woman or another, as the Navy's report is heavily redacted.
Last month, Sorenson was found guilty of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. An admiral has recommended the captain be separated from the service.
Reached by email, Sorenson declined to comment on the Navy's report. His attorney, Greg McCormack, provided a brief statement to Navy Times indicating the captain intends to appeal his case.
“Capt. Sorenson has an exemplary service record and has provided 25 years of outstanding naval service to our country,” McCormack said. “We look forward to this legal process, which will provide a forum for the truth to prevail.”
The Navy's investigation was conducted by Carrier Strike Group 8, Anzio's parent command. The ship and its crew of about 350 are in the Middle East currently as part of the Truman carrier strike group. They are tasked with providing air defense for the aircraft carrier.
According to the Navy's report, the woman with whom Sorenson allegedly sought to have sex was nearing the deadline to receive her surface warfare officer qualification. She told investigators that the day after their group outing in Yorktown, Sorenson sat her down in his cabin and asked her if she would sleep with him in exchange for her SWO pin, a Navy uniform device that denotes an officer has achieved all basic qualifications required of the service's surface warfare community.
The woman's name is redacted in the report. As a rule, Navy Times does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assault or harassment."
Food for thought: This is common behavior in Navy Wardrooms, "Sex in exchange for career advancement opportunities." Yet I'm glad the junior officer reported the CO's abusive and sexually aggressive behavior.
During my department head tour aboard the USS Stout, I was forced to serve as the only female for an entire year because of the sexual indiscretions of the former CO. After he was relieved for cause months after my arrival, it was alleged that he'd carried on affairs with several junior officers.
On one occasion I was present during one of his mistress' (JO) SWO board and it was obvious that she'd been "promised" her SWO pin. Every department head agreed that she'd done poorly but a few days later we were called to the Wardroom for her pinning?!! The JO later told me that she and the CO had been romantically involved for over a year.
After the final transfer of the female SWO JOs, the Executive Officer refused to request that BUPERS order female SWOs to fill their billets. The experience was one of the worse of my entire career because I was forced to endure racism and sexism for the remainder of my tour. And of course the more senior I got, the more I would endure racism and sexism. I think it's a Navy thing!!