Monday, August 8, 2016

The Navy’s “Sexual Assault-Harassment and Rape Epidemic” continues…

Navy Times recently reported— 

“A former cruiser skipper accused of offering a junior officer her surface warfare pin in exchange for sex, claims the woman is the one who made advances on him, as the fired officer fights to save his career.

Capt. Brian Sorenson was ousted as the commanding officer of cruiser Anzio and found guilty at admiral's mast in January for sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming. In trying to persuade a panel to retain Sorenson, his defense attorney said the junior officer was struggling to attain her SWO qualification and plotted to loosen Sorenson up with booze before pressuring him to qualify her. The attorney also asserted she had encouraged Sorenson's advances and that it was ultimately she who solicited sex.

In addition to disputing that he propositioned his junior officer in his captain's cabin, Sorenson denies he grabbed the woman's buttocks while they were in a bar — one of the Navy's highest-profile sexual assault cases in recent years.

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Sorenson is attempting to convince a board of three rear admirals that he should be allowed to continue  serving or to retire honorably. The board could recommend him for retention, retirement or harsher penalties such as reduction in rank or a downgraded discharge.

His ultimate fate will be determined by Navy Personnel Command.

Sorenson’s 25-year military career began to unravel Aug. 30, when he and several junior officers assigned to the Norfolk-based Anzio attended a "wetting down" party at a bar in Yorktown, Virginia. He is accused of engaging in two highly inappropriate conversations with the woman who worked for him, allegedly propositioning her for sex, according to a Navy investigation report.

Navy Times is withholding the name of the accuser due to a policy not to publish names of alleged sexual assault victims.

Sorenson's attorney conceded that Sorenson engaged in an inappropriate conversation outside the bar, which was overheard by crewmembers. The attorney also conceded that a conversation of a sexual nature occurred between the officer and Sorenson, but seemed suggest that the officer initiated the sexual banter to influence Sorenson.

"He never touched her," said Greg McCormac, a retired Army judge advocate representing Sorenson and who made the case Monday to the panel about why Sorenson should be retained in the Navy.

The government's attorneys countered that Sorenson displayed poor judgement and that from the moment the allegations surfaced, Sorenson had offered "little acceptance and a lot of blame."

Disputed encounters

Sorenson allegedly convened his officers the day after the wetting down, as rumors began circulating on the ship, and told them they bore some responsibility for his behavior because they allowed him to get intoxicated.

"This is the kind of behavior we might expect from junior personnel," the government's attorney said. "Certainly not from an officer with the distinguished record of Capt. Sorenson."

The defense, however, focused on undermining the credibility of the female officer who reported Sorenson's advances.

As evidence, McCormac presented a witness statement from an Anzio warrant officer who claimed the junior officer asked the warrant a cryptic question prior to the encounter in the CO's cabin.

"If you have sex with someone because they were going to give you something, but it doesn't involve money, is that prostitution?" the woman allegedly asked, according to the testimony of the warrant officer.

McCormack said the question was audacious and used it to question the officer's motives. He also claimed that the officer is "milking the system" because she claimed she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is planning to file for VA disability.

"She is milking the system and she's doing it at his expense," McCormack said, motioning to Sorenson, who was in attendance at the panel with his wife of 23 years.

In his opening statement, McCormack did not elaborate on how the officer solicited Sorenson, nor did he offer an alternative narrative to the accusations in the Navy investigation about what exactly happened in the CO's cabin the day after the trip to the bar, where the officer claims he offered up her quals in exchange for sex.

He also did not explain why Sorenson did not come forward to report the woman's purported advances. She filed an equal-opportunity complaint in the days following the wetting down and the incident in the CO's cabin that set in motion the investigation and Sorenson's removal.

Full article:

Food for thought:  
After reading this article I immediately reflected back to my department head tour onboard the USS STOUT and USS GONZALEZ, over a decade ago.  Within a few months of my arrival, the Commanding Officer was "relieved for cause" after physically assaulting a junior male officer during a port visit in Mobile Alabama. The first few nights in-port the crew literally bounced from one bar to another, similar to their "sexually aroused" drunken behavior during overseas port-visits, or wetting downs!!

The CO of course faced an Admiral’s mast and later a Board of Inquiry (BOI).  You would think a well-seasoned “Captain Select” would’ve conducted himself more appropriately in the presence of his subordinates.  Of course not!!  Instead, he feasted on the fruits of his labor.

After a few character witnesses came forward to testify at his BOI, it was discovered that he’d engaged in adulterous relationships with several of his junior female division officers.  I was present during one of his lovers’ Surface Warfare qualification board and she responded horribly after literally being spoon-fed the answers, similar to her white male counterparts, yet each of them were awarded their Surface Warfare insignia, without a repeat board like their African American male counterparts.

In my memoir, Broken Silence, a Military Whistleblower's Fight for Justice, I describe at length how African American male officers are deliberately "set-up to fail" while trying to achieve their Surface Warfare qualifications or simply advance through the ranks. Failure to obtain a SWO pin is extremely detrimental to a Surface Warfare officer's career!! 

However, having served nearly 20 years in the Navy, as an enlisted and Supply Corps officer, I witnessed firsthand how certain females (especially Surface Warfare officers) resorted to using their “feminine prowess” to better compete in a male dominant career field.  To the extent of sleeping with their enlisted subordinates, fellow division officers (to lessen the immediate competition) or propositioning their department heads (if necessary), including the commanding officer, especially if he’s intoxicated!!  His weakest and most vulnerable moment.   But usually the flirtation and sexual advancements begins in the workplace!!  

Yet female officers are just as competitive towards their female counterparts, oftentimes more cut-throat!!   I've been on the receiving end of jealousy, lies and deceit which abruptly ended my stellar career.

During her "incriminating" testimony at one of my preliminary hearings, Lt. Commander Mei-Ling Marshall testified to the fact that she had a personal interest in the outcome of my case, because her record had been flagged after I'd reported her involvement in my retaliation case; as the command's Judge Advocate General, she served at the helm of orchestrating the adultery case against me with mere fabricated evidence.

In the later chapters of my memoir, I describe at length her abuse of command authority and miscarriage of justice; in a concerted effort to "eliminate the competition" after she'd learned that the Commodore had decided to "rank all 0-4s" under his authority during our next fitness report evaluation cycle. 

She went to great lengths to get her way, even employing the efforts of her close personal friend and mentor, Ret. Capt. Isaiah "Ike" Owens to convince me to "tone down" my competitive spirit, by stating "Blacks have a long way to go and that I was ruining it for black officers."  I guess I was ruining it for him!!

In April of this year, Judge Rosemary Collyer, a Senior United States District Judge for the United States District of Columbia, ruled on my Civil Action case against Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, establishing that I was infact retaliated against as a military whistleblower.  Unfortunately the Navy's Board for Correction of Navy Records continues to stall with making their final decision on my remanded case.  Meanwhile, over the years, I've read story after story of countless senior officers abusing their authority while violating their subordinates Civil and Human Rights in the workplace!!  Meanwhile, Congress and President Obama does NOTHING!!

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