WASHINGTON -- In perhaps the worst sexual harassment episode in the military since the Tailhook incident, the Navy said yesterday that it would court-martial four male instructors and punish six others for pressuring female recruits over sex.
The case involves 16 young enlisted women who were learning to operate the Navy's computer and telephone networks at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. Investigators found that the 10 male instructors, who had served in the Navy 6 to 12 years, made unwanted sexual comments to the women, and in some cases grabbed them, at various times from March 1993 to this September, when an inquiry was ordered.
The Navy will court-martial four of the instructors on charges ranging from sexual harassment to dereliction of duty to indecent assault. If convicted, they could be fined, demoted or discharged.
In addition, the training center's commander, Capt. John C. Ensch, has fined, demoted or restricted to quarters the six other male instructors for harassing young female recruits or failing to report that harassment to supervisors. Captain Ensch has also issued a warning to a female chief petty officer who observed the harassment but failed to report it to her superiors.
Although the instructors apparently made no blatant sex-for-grades demands, they were clearly asking for sexual favors, the investigators said. For instance, the instructors would suggest to women in their classes who had received good grades that a sexual reward was warranted in return. But the investigators said they had found no instance in which women had actually felt compelled to have sex to pass a course, or had failed a class for refusing their instructors' advances.
Navy officials learned of the harassment from a male senior chief petty officer, who had heard of it in a casual conversation with a woman who said she was a victim.