Monday, January 16, 2006

Sexual politics and LT Black's Courts Martial

Earl Kelly has an explosive article out in The Capital concerning LT Black's upcoming Courts Martial at the USNA(initial posts here and here). This article has more facts than any other I have seen and contains some damning information about what is going on in Annapolis; this should be of exceptional interest to anyone who is concerned about the Navy and its institutions.
Midshipman Foxton said she never intended to complain of sexual harassment. Then, another officer on the cruise, Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Whisenhant, asked her to make a statement about the incident a few days later.

"She said the reason she was asking me to make a statement was that it would go into his record or his file. She said it wouldn't go any further than making a statement," Midshipman Foxton testified.
Bingo! I called it. LCDR Whisenhant (Navy Cycling coach and a good runner in RIMPAC 2004. Speaking of which, she goes by "Shelly Whisenhant," or as she states here on her photo page, as one of Velo Bella's "California Girls," she goes by the nic-name "Shelly Belly." Just a question here; as the Navy Cycling Coach, does she have an say in what they buy? Do they buy from any of Velo Bella's sponsors? I hope not. That sure wouldn't look good.) is off on her own agenda - at least that is what it is starting to look like. What I have not heard is WHO gave her permission to interview Midshipmen and run her OWN investigation. Nothing I have read states she was assigned to do any type of investigation by anyone, or followed any Navy EO procedures. Oh, she is also an Oceano type, so she is in the same teaching Dept. with LT Black...

Bravo Zulu here to Midshipman Foxton, like someone who knows her said, it looks like she is not the driver of this. As a matter of fact, it looks like she is doing exactly the right thing. Answering questions that are put to her directly, and let others work it out. LCDR Whisenhant put her is a bad position.
Testifying at a preliminary hearing in the case of Lt. Bryan Black, Marine JAG officer Maj. C.J. Thielemann said the academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, is under heavy pressure to make the academy more welcoming for women and is looking to make an example of Lt. Black. (NB: Skippy nailed this one)

"If another admiral came in, I would have the same concerns," Maj. Thielemann testified at the Washington Navy Yard.

A professor of leadership and law at the academy, he conducted the first investigation in the case.

He said professors at the academy are more careful about their language than they are in the fleet or Marine Corps. He'd never before heard a professor at school use language as offensive as Lt. Black is charged with, but he didn't think it was criminal.

Maj. Thielemann concluded his investigation by recommending that Lt. Black be issued a "non-punitive letter of caution and counsel."

Adm. Rempt, however, insisted on holding an admiral's mast, an administrative hearing that could have resulted in Lt. Black being confined to quarters for 60 days and issued a letter of reprimand.

"If an officer goes to a ... mast and receives that punishment, his career is done," Maj. Thielemann

"I don't believe he could get a fair hearing, given the environment," Maj. Thielemann said.
Major Thielemann, you are a credit to the USNA and the Marine Corps. You are doing a great service to your Midshipmen, and the USNA.
Lt. Black testified that he rejected the mast after he learned that the academy was going to take the unusual step of opening the proceeding to faculty and staff members to make an example of him.

It was to be "in the foyer of the admiral's administrative building so that everyone could see," Lt. Black said.
That was going to be an Open Mast - AKA a show trial. For those that saw Band of Brothers, LT Black turned down NJP and stated, "No sir, I want to go to Courts Martial."
The defense won on several points during yesterday's hearing.

Lt. Black succeeded in getting four counts reduced to one: conduct unbecoming an officer. He also had been charged with two counts of using indecent language and one count of failure to obey a lawful order.

Also, Marine JAG Lt. Col. Paul McConnell, who presided over the hearing, ruled that Midshipman Foxton is to be called by her name at trial and may not be referred to as "victim," for fear of prejudicing the jury against Lt. Black.

Trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 30, but Col. McConnell said it will be delayed for "weeks" because of scheduling conflicts.

Adm. Rempt did not attend the hearing and an academy spokesman said the prosecutor, Navy Lt. Charles Kisor, couldn't be interviewed.
Oh, more info on the political part of all this.
A few days after that, at a quarterly Board of Visitors meeting, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski referred to instances of sexual harassment and abuse that have taken place at the academy. She told Adm. Rempt that it all sounded "like deja vu all over again."
Ohhh, this smells funky. May just be my tacklebox; but this smells funky.

Watch this close, I will.

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