Sexual Assault Prevention: Reframing the Coast Guard Perspective to Address the Lowest Level of the Sexual Violence Continuum?Sexual Harassment

Author:Lieutenant Commander Bryan R. Blackmore
Pages:75-130
 
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2014] REFRAMING COAST GUARD SEXUAL HARASSMENT 75
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION: REFRAMING THE COAST
GUARD PERSPECTIVE TO ADDRESS THE LOWEST LEVEL
OF THE SEXUAL VIOLENCE CONTINUUM—SEXUAL
HARASSMENT
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER BRYAN R. BLACKMORE*
We get it. We know that the larger issue is a cultural problem, which has
allowed demeaning behavior and attitudes towards women to exist
within the Navy Department. Our senior leadership is totally committed
to confronting this problem and demonstrating that sexual harassment
will not be tolerated. Those who don’t get the message will be driven
from our ranks.
—Acting Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe1
In my view, all this stuff is connected. If we’re going to
get serious about things like sexual assault, we have to
get serious about an environment that could lead to
sexual harassment. In some ways, this stuff can all be
linked.
Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff2
* Judge Advocate, U.S. Coast Guard. Presently assigned as Advanced Operational Law
Fellow, Center For Law & Military Operations, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal
Center & School, Charlottesville, Virginia. LL.M., 2014, The Judge Advocate General’s
Legal Center & School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia; J.D. 2006, Florida
State University College of Law; B.S., 1998, U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Previous
assignments include Deck Watch Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BOUTWELL
(WHEC 719), Alameda, California, 1998–2000; U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence
Coordination Center, Washington, DC (Indications & Warnings Watch Officer, 2000–
2001; Chief, Alien Migration/Human Smuggling Branch, 2001–2003); Staff Attorney,
Coast Guard Atlantic Area/District Five Command Advice & Operational Law Branch,
Portsmouth, Virginia, 2006–2007; Trial Defense Counsel, Navy Legal Service Office
Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia, 2008; Staff Attorney, Task Force 134 Central Criminal
Court of Iraq Liaison Office and Office of Criminal Investigations, Baghdad, Iraq,
September 2008–April 2009; Staff Attorney/Trial Counsel, Coast Guard Pacific Area,
Alameda, California, 2009–2013. Member of the bars of Virginia and the United States
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This article was submitted in partial completion
of the Master of Laws requirements of the 62nd Judge Advocate Officer Graduate
Course.
1 Melissa Healy, Pentagon Blasts Tailhook Probe, Two Admirals Resign, L.A. TIMES,
Sept. 25, 1992, http://articles.latimes.com/1992-09-25/news/mn-1182_1_investigative-
service/2.
76 MILITARY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 221
I. Introduction
He was the “cool” Chief. He was the most approachable senior
enlisted on the cutter. He let the junior enlisted come into the ship’s
office where he would listen to them vent about life on a cutter. He
offered them career advice. He played cards with them on the messdeck.
He earned the complete trust of the crew. He also earned the trust of the
command; he was the Executive Officer’s trusted assistant, ably handling
all administrative matters on the cutter and earning a selection on the
Chief Warrant Officer list.3
Chief became especially close to two junior enlisted females. The
first female (Female 1), a junior petty officer, would come to his office
regularly and discuss life with Chief. She told him all about her
boyfriend, who was on another cutter. He provided her updates on his
A-school status. 4 Chief would also refer to her as his “boo” and call her
“babe.” The other female (Female 2), a seaman,5 would also come to his
office and hang out. Chief identified with her because they were both
from the same hometown. They often talked about home; she sought
career advice from him; and he updated her on her A-school status. He
did not call her “boo,” but he did call her by her nickname, a shortened
version of her last name.
During one patrol, Chief saw Female 1 in a bikini during a port call.
He made a point of telling her that she looked really good in her bikini
and that he really liked the pink bottom. She thought nothing of the
comment at the time. During another port call a month later, and after
most of the crew had consumed alcohol, Chief called her to his office.
She thought Chief was going to update her on her boyfriend’s A-school
status. Instead, Chief locked the door, sat on her lap and tried to kiss her.
2 Becky Iannotta, Air Force-wide Inspections Begin Today, A.F. TIMES, Dec. 5, 2012,
http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20121205/NEWS/212050303/Air-Force-wide-
inspections-begin-today.
3 United States v. Hughey, 72 M.J. 809 (C.G. Ct. Crim. App. 2011). The author was
detailed as Trial Counsel in the general court-martial of Yeoman Chief Petty Officer
(YNC) Hughey, and the case’s facts are based upon the author’s knowledge of the case.
4 A-school refers to the school that prepares Coast Guard members in the pay grade of E-
3 to function as Third Class Petty Officers in their chosen rating. See U.S. COAST
GUARD, COMMANDANT INSTR. MANUAL 1500.10C, PERFORMANCE, TRAINING AND
EDUCATION MANUAL art. 7.F.1 (May 2009).
5 A Seaman in the Coast Guard has a pay grade of E-3. See U.S. COAST GUARD,
COMMANDANT INSTR. MANUAL 1000.2, ENLISTED ACCESSIONS, EVALUATIONS, AND
ADVANCEMENTS art. 2.B (Sept. 2011).
2014] REFRAMING COAST GUARD SEXUAL HARASSMENT 77
She resisted and reminded him that she had a boyfriend. She was able to
get up, but Chief then pinned her up against the printer and rubbed
himself against her. She continued to resist, and Chief finally relented.
Before she was able to leave, he insisted that she tell him that they were
still friends. She left the ship’s office that night and did not report the
incident.
At the next port call, Chief got really intoxicated. Most of the crew
congregated at one bar shore-side. Chief made his way to a table of
junior enlisted females. He sat down, leaned over, and rubbed the leg of
a female Seaman sitting next to him. She slapped his hand away; Chief
called her a “bitch.”
Chief ended up at another table sitting next to another female junior
petty officer. He rubbed her leg and told her she was beautiful; she
rebuffed him and Chief left the table. Chief walked away and proceeded
to hit on another junior enlisted female, telling her she looked “fine
tonight” and that she was a “sexy Russian.” She told him he was being
inappropriate.
Chief was later seen grinding on other females on the dance floor.
While dancing with one female petty officer, Chief told her to “get on
my dick” and also said to her “damn, look at that ass.” Another female
petty officer reported Chief grabbed her butt on the dance floor. On the
way back to the cutter that night with other crewmembers, he asked one
female petty officer where her rack was located. She also told him that
was inappropriate. Chief replied he was untouchable, he handled the
“captains masts,” and he would not get in trouble.
Later that night, Chief went to the rack of Female 2 and sexually
assaulted her. The next day she was in shock and did not report the
sexual assault to the command. Chief came to her rack the next night
and sexually assaulted her again, accusing her of leading him on and
kissing on him on the dance floor the night before. She woke up the next
morning and reported both sexual assaults to a shipmate. She eventually
spoke with Female 1 and learned that Chief sexually assaulted her during
a previous port call.
Chief was tried by a general court-martial and convicted by a panel
of members of one specification of Aggravated Sexual Contact and three
specifications of Wrongful Sexual Contact, in violation of Article 120 of

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