A Navy sailor has been jailed on allegations of raping an enlisted woman aboard the submarine tender USS Holland, the second accusation of sexual assault aboard a naval ship in the last three months, officials said yesterday.
The assault allegedly occurred July 14 in the enlisted women's quarters aboard the ship while it was docked at its home port in Charleston, S.C., a Navy official said.
The suspect, a petty officer third class, is being detained in the naval brig at Charleston following a magistrate's hearing Friday that found enough evidence to continue the probe, according to one Navy official. He was not identified pending the filing of formal charges.
The woman sailor who was allegedly attacked has taken a temporary leave from the ship, officials said. They said the woman has received medical examinations and undergone counseling from naval authorities.
The magistrate's hearing was the first step in the military legal process. Under Navy regulations, legal authorities have 90 days to present evidence in the case to base command officials who will determine whether a court-martial is warranted.
The allegations came on the eve of the court-martial in the other case, which involves a Navy officer accused of raping a female officer aboard an ammunition supply ship on deployment in the Mediterranean in April.
The court-martial for Lt. j.g. Robin E. Brown is scheduled to begin today in Rota, Spain, on charges tht he raped a lieutenant in her stateroom aboard the USS Suribachi after he returned from shore leave. When Brown was charged, Navy officials described shipboard rapes as rare.
Brown's attorneys are expected to argue that both officers had been on shore leave with different groups of friends and that the alleged victim did not protest Brown's visit to her stateroom.
Under a series of court orders and internal pressures, the Navy has recently opened about 58 noncombatant ships to women. Federal law and military regulations prohibit women from serving on combat ships such as aircraft carriers and destroyers, although female pilots and various technicians are allowed to serve on those vessels for limited periods of duty.
Aboard most of the noncombatants, the women make up 10 percent or less of the crew.
Both female officers and enlisted women have complained that they are often subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination from their male counterparts, many of whom have had little experience working with women on other naval assignments.
Many male naval officers and enlisted men have complained that shipboard life is too cramped and rigorous to accommodate female crew members and officers.