Male sailor investigated in rape of female shipmate


A sailor serving aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first combat ship with female crew, will face the military's equivalent of a grand jury on charges that he raped a female sailor in a Virginia Beach, Va., park.

The male sailor was reassigned earlier this week from the nuclear-powered carrier to a shore command in Norfolk, Va., to await an Article 32, a pretrial hearing that could lead to a general court-martial, said Cmdr. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for the Atlantic fleet in Norfolk.

The female sailor is still serving aboard the ship, he said.

The hearing at the Navy Legal Service Office in Norfolk is expected to be held within the next month, said Commander Wensing. The hearing generally lasts about a week, he said.

The female sailor, who like the accused holds the rank of E-2 or seaman's apprentice, said she was raped by the sailor in a Virginia Beach park shortly after midnight July 15.

She did not contact local police and returned to the carrier with a female shipmate, said Commander Wensing.

Shortly after noon that day the woman told medical personnel aboard the ship she was raped. She was treated and then transferred to Portsmouth Naval Hospital.

The ship left three days later for a training exercise off Virginia, returning July 27 to Norfolk. Both sailors, who work in different areas of the ship, took part in the training exercises. They were counseled by their

superiors to remain apart, said Commander Wensing.

The carrier is scheduled to set sail in October for a six-month tour in the Mideast. It is expected to have about 500 women among its 6,000 crew members. Currently, about 250 women are on board.

Crew members receive special training about sexual harassment and are strongly discouraged from dating, said Commander Wensing.

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