Another flier cleared of assault in Navy's Tailhook sex scandal


NORFOLK, Va. -- The Tailhook-related assault charge pending against a Navy flier will be dropped on the recommendation of a reviewing officer, an attorney for the flier said yesterday. And the 1991 president of the Tailhook Association was cleared yesterday of any misconduct at that year's fateful convention.

The reviewer's recommendation in the case of Cmdr. Gregory E. Tritt, 43, means that only one naval or Marine Corps officer -- out of 137 cases originally recommended for possible punishment by Pentagon investigators -- faces court-martial on an assault charge stemming from the 1991 Navy fliers' convention in Las Vegas at which investigators say dozens of women were fondled or groped.

Commander Tritt and one other officer could still be court-martialed on other charges.

Still facing an assault charge is Lt. David Samples, 28. His case is in limbo while the U.S. Court of Military Appeals decides whether he was granted immunity by prosecutors before being charged.

Cmdr. Mark S. Utecht's recommendation to drop the assault charge against Commander Tritt is legally binding upon top Tailhook authority Vice Adm. J. Paul Reason, said Commander Tritt's co-counsel Alan Bergstrom.

In a separate decision, the Navy announced that Vice Admiral Reason had cleared Capt. Frederic G. Ludwig Jr. of any misconduct at the convention. Captain Ludwig, a student at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., was the Navy's annual president of the Tailhook group and helped organize the 1991 meeting. He was one of five officers re-investigated after Vice Admiral Reason's recommendation that the Navy secretary issue them letters of censure was rebuffed.

All five have now been cleared.

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