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Employee Claims Sexual Harassment at Naval Academy Bookstore

September 30, 1992

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A teen-age cashier at the U.S. Naval Academy’s bookstore has filed a complaint, saying an officer asked her to go through a Vanity Fair magazine article about Madonna and ″highlight all the dirty parts.″

Nicole Stuller, 17, said she considered the magazine offensive and the fact that a superior told her to read it amounted to harassment.

The written complaint, which she filed with her superior, comes a month after Navy personnel were required to attend seminars at the academy and elsewhere to rid the Navy of attitudes that led to the Tailhook scandal in which women were forced through a gantlet of drunken aviators at a convention.

″It wasn’t a touchy thing. It wasn’t a verbal thing. But through the eight hours of sexual harassment class, I learned that it is sexual harassment,″ Ms. Stuller said. ″If you have to look at a naked lady and you don’t want to, that’s sexual (harassment). He’s above me. I’m not going to say no.″

Ms. Stuller said she was called into Lt. Cmdr. Steve Taylor’s office Sept. 16 and told to review a graphic article about ″Sex,″ Madonna’s new book of erotic photos. Along with the article, Vanity Fair published seminude pictures of Madonna.

″He told me to go into the lounge and go through the magazine and ’highlight all the dirty parts,‴ Ms. Stuller said in her complaint. ″I felt very uncomfortable and embarrassed looking at these things and especially highlighting all the trashy parts.″

Taylor said Wednesday he had wanted a second opinion on the issue because he feared being accused of censorship for pulling it from store shelves. Another female employee had complained earlier that the magazine was offensive.

″We want to be very sensitive toward material that’s offensive. On the other hand, we’re not into book-burning,″ said Taylor, the officer in charge of the bookstore. ″In retrospect, I think I’ve made an error.″

The bookstore does not carry magazines with nude photos and keeps out such fare as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar, said store manager Robert Speaks, a civilian.

Cmdr. Mike John, a spokesman for the Annapolis academy, said the incident showed poor judgment, but was not harassment and no disciplinary action against Taylor is anticipated.

″It’s his role to take a look and see what’s on the shelves at The Midshipmen Store and make sure the right type of material is there. He was trying to do that,″ John said.

After Ms. Stuller complained, Taylor apologized to her. He will be counseled about the appropriate way to have handled the situation, John said.

The store is owned and operated by the midshipmen, the academy’s students, and employs civilians. Ms. Stuller, who is studying psychology at night at Anne Arundel Community College, has been a cashier there less than two months.

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