Meghann Myers, Navy Times, Mar 18
Six sailors face criminal charges for their involvement in the shower video scandal that rocked the silent service late last year.
Several female officers, among the first women to serve aboard submarines, were video recorded in a shower changing area over a period of more than a year.
Five more sailors are implicated and could be charged for using their cell phones to secretly record, trade or view and not report the videos of their female shipmates undressing. Prosecutors have alleged these Wyoming crew members shared the illicit videos like Pokemon cards by "bumping" their smart phones.
The Navy is prosecuting sailors in the scandal, which began in March with an Article 32 hearing in Mayport, Florida. All eleven of those implicated are assigned to the Trident Training Facility or Submarine Group 10 – after having been removed from the Wyoming when the scandal broke – in Kings Bay, Georgia, said Submarine Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Tommy Crosby.
Officials decided against charging one sailor in connection with the videos, Crosby said Monday.
According to the Navy Region Southeast court docket, three sailors have been charged with recording, while the other three are charged with distribution.
The first batch of hearings was scheduled for March 11 and 12, against three E-5s and two E-4s at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The defense argued that prosecutors overstated how graphic and invasive these videos were.
Two sailors went through the process, while three waived their right to an Article 32, Crosby said.
The hearings are equivalent to a civilian grand jury, in which both sides present evidence and the convening authority decides whether to pursue a court-martial.
SUBGRU 10 and TTF Kings Bay were unable to provide charge sheets by Tuesday, but the five sailors' charges ranged from conspiracy, making false official statements, violating a general lawful order and multiple counts of recording videos, distributing videos and viewing videos, all separate crimes.
Another Article 32 hearing is scheduled for March 27 in Mayport against an E-5 accused of two counts of conspiracy, disrespecting a superior commissioned officer, violating a lawful general regulation, four counts of recording a private area, four counts of viewing a private area, and three counts of distributing recordings of a private area.
The story came to light just more than two years after the first women joined submarines, highlighting the challenges
of integrating traditionally male commands. Indeed, some of the women taped were among the first cadre to report to the sub force.
The head of SUBFOR has called the videos a violation of trust and vowed action in cases where the allegations are proven.
"What some people thought was a high-schoolish prank was a serious sexual offense, with significant penalties," Vice Adm. Michael Connor said in January.
Those disciplinary moves began at the March 12 Article 32 hearing, when prosecutors opened their case against two missile technicians. Navy prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Lee Marsh said the men were part of a ring that traded the videos among themselves like Pokemon cards, according to the Associated Press.
The videos, Marsh said, were recorded while underway, and once the sailor who recorded them came ashore, he shared them with others by "bumping" smartphones.
Defense attorney Navy Lt. Paul Hochmuth argued that his client didn't know what he was receiving when the sailor offered him a "gift."
Hochmuth said that it was unfair of the Navy to characterize the videos as illicit, because they were of poor quality and showed only partial nudity.
"At no point can you ever see a full length view of the person ... You might see a face ... then a leg ... or a butt ... but there is no full length view," Hochmuth said.
Those two missile technicians are assigned to Submarine Group 10, whose commanding officer, Rear Adm. Charles Richard, will decide whether to send them to court-martial.
The videos are believed to show at least three women undressing.
They were allegedly taken by a fellow crew member, or crew members, for periods ranging upwards of a year and were widely distributed. The illicit videos are believed to have been reported only after they were sent to a male officer on another submarine.