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Woman Who Claimed Sexual Harassment to be Charged with Assault

June 8, 1996

POINT MUGU, Calif. (AP) _ One of four women who accused male members of a naval air squadron of sexual harassment will be charged with breaking the foot of an investigator. The men will not be charged, the Navy said.

Navy investigators found nothing to substantiate the accusations by four female members of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 against four senior enlisted officers, the squadron’s commanding officer, Capt. Craig Weideman, said Thursday.

But Weideman said he has decided to pursue criminal assault charges against one of the accusers. The woman, who was not identified, reportedly flew into a rage while being re-interviewed by criminal investigators and allegedly fractured a bone in one agent’s foot.

``She has done some things wrong, physical assault,″ Weideman said. ``The Navy cannot send a message of letting people walk away from things like that.″

The woman’s Navy-appointed defense counsel, Lt. Adam Paul Stoffa, declined to comment on specific charges, but said: ``The manner in which these young ladies have been treated is very interesting.″

The probe began in early April after several women complained to a career counselor of improper sexual comments and grabbing by their senior enlisted officers in the squadron known as VX-9.

The Navy took the matter seriously _ as it has for all sexual harassment allegations since the Navy’s 1991 Tailhook scandal, said Marilyn G. Hourican, who runs the local office of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Investigators interviewed dozens of people, but failed to find any witnesses who could corroborate what the women said.

``Beyond the initial allegations,″ Hourican said, ``there was little to support what the victims said. But to be fair, usually these things don’t occur when witnesses are around.″

Two of the male officers accused of harassment have returned to the Point Mugu detachment of the squadron, a third has retired and the fourth was transferred to a Navy base in Washington state.

The woman who will be charged with assault has been temporarily assigned to other duties at Point Mugu. The other three accusers have been transferred or reassigned to other Naval installations.

If convicted in a court-martial, the woman faces up to six months in jail, forfeiture of two-thirds of her pay for six months, a demotion in rank and a bad-conduct discharge.

Her attorney and a Navy-appointed prosecutor are trying to negotiate a pretrial agreement, Weideman said.

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