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Admiral Loses Job Over Sex Abuse Case

November 6, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The commander of one of the Navy’s top flight-testing facilities is being reassigned for failing to take prompt action on a sexual abuse allegation.

The move comes a week after the Navy announced it was cutting ties with a 15,000-member naval aviation group known as the Tailhook Association, at whose meeting in September the abuse reportedly occurred to several women, including an aide to the officer.

The chief of naval operations, Adm. Frank Kelso, removed Rear Adm. Jack Snyder as the commanding officer at the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center in Maryland, a Navy spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The action stems from ″information developed to date in the ongoing investigations relating to the 1991 Tailhook Association Symposium in Las Vegas,″ said the spokeswoman, Lt. Deborah Carson.

Snyder ″has been relieved of his duties. He has been transferred to duty at the Naval Air Systems Command, effective Nov. 4, 1991,″ she said.

″Rear Adm. Snyder’s lack of timely action to investigate an important aspect of this case caused the chief of naval operations to question his judgment in command.″

The spokeswoman said she could not offer any other specifics, because that investigations involving the symposium and Snyder’s actions were still in progress. She termed Kelso’s decision an ″interim″ action.

The Tailhook Association, whose name comes from Navy slang for carrier- based aircraft, is composed of active-duty and retired Navy pilots and others who support naval aviation.

Last week, Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III expressed ″absolute outrage″ and cut service ties with the group after reports surfaced that a number of women were sexually molested or physically abused in public at the association’s meeting.

The Navy also said its Naval Investigative Service was looking into the alleged incidents, including possible criminal activity.

Snyder attended the symposium with a female aide, said military sources who requested anonymity.

Officials familiar with the incident said Navy pilots formed ″a gantlet″ in a hotel hallway. They called out ″admiral’s aide, admiral’s aide,″ then tried to rip off her clothes and grabbed her private parts, the officials said.

Snyder, a past president of the Tailhook Association, reportedly minimized the incident and failed to act promptly when another aide told him about it, sources said.

Spokeswoman Carson, reading a statement, said the Navy’s policy against sexual harassment ″is clearcut and firm. It will not be tolerated.″

Such action is ″contrary to good order and discipline, mission readiness and the respect and quality of life deserved by all Navy people. Commanding officers and others in leadership positions are expected to train their personnel to prevent sexual harassment, to be vigilant in detecting occurrences and to take proper action in any cases of sexual harassment,″ Carson said.

″The chief of naval operations expects all of those in positions of responsibility to be especially vigilant in this regard.″

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