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Navy: No Basis for Tailhook Charge

October 31, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Navy investigators found no basis for a sexual harassment allegation against service members attending an August convention of the Tailhook Association, a naval aviators organization, Navy officials said Tuesday.

The alleged incident took place during a late-night encounter in the Nugget Hotel in Sparks, Nev., with a civilian couple who were staying at the hotel but were not attending the Aug. 17-20 Tailhook convention.

The man who brought the complaint, whose identity was not released, reported that he and his wife were in a crowded hallway in the hotel and that when they tried to pass Tailhook conventioneers _ apparently Navy fliers _ ``inappropriate comments″ were made to him and his wife.

The man also reported that someone in the group made inappropriate physical contact with his wife.

The couple refused to be interviewed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Navy officials said.

The Los Angeles Times reported in its Tuesday editions that the Sparks Police Department said the couple declined to sign a formal complaint or be interviewed after being told that the alleged incident had been captured on a hotel security camera.

Navy Secretary Richard Danzig told reporters Monday during a visit to California that Navy investigators found no evidence to substantiate the harassment charge. Danzig said he saw no reason, therefore, to limit the Navy’s relationship with the Tailhook Association, which sponsors professional seminars as part of its annual conventions.

A 1991 Tailhook convention featured scandalous episodes of drunken debauchery, property damage and sexual assaults. Afterward, the Navy severed its ties to the group. Just this year the Navy decided to resume sponsoring active-duty Navy and Marine Corps aviators’ attendance at the annual gathering, which is a combination of aviation seminars, industry exhibits, parties, banquets and outdoor activities.

The Tailhook Association is named for the hook on an aircraft that snags an arresting cable on the landing deck of an aircraft carrier. As of last year, it had about 10,000 members, down from a 1991 peak of about 16,000.

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