(LTJG Christine D. Balboni and her attorney, LCDR London Steverson at her hearing on sexual harassment allegations at Coast Guard Base Alameda California in 1984)
Today Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (Dem,N.Y.) said “Commanders can’t always be objective, nor can all of them distinguish between a “slap on the ass” and more serious cases such as rape.
Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives led by Senator Gillibrand, who serves on the Armed Services panel, have introduced legislation that would remove sexual-assault cases from the military chain of command.
“After speaking to victims, they have told us that the reason they do not report these crimes is because they fear retaliation,” Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, told the military leaders at the hearing. “You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you that you would actually bring justice” in their cases.
Victims’ advocacy groups say service members who are attacked often are reluctant to step forward in a system in which commanding officers decide whether to bring charges, choose the military jury and can reduce or overturn a sentence.
The Sexual Harassment case of LTJG Christine D. Balboni was a harginger of today’s military environment. In that case the military was treated to a preview of the toxic environment that the Senators are hearing about today. The Coast Guard did not take the warning that the Balboni Case presented them with. The military did not accept it as an omen.
The uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, in a Senate hearing room with dozens of other military officers, admitted to lawmakers that the Defense Department had failed to effectively prevent or respond to sexual assaults despite years of trying.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., grew heated in questioning military leaders during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearingtoday, June 4, 2013.
The Pentagon doesn’t know how many members are raped or sexually assaulted because surveys don’t distinguish between “predatory” behavior and an “unhealthy” working environment, she said at the hearing.
The military has “sexual predators who are not committing crimes of lust,” she said. “This isn’t about sex.” Rather it’s about “domination” and violence, she said.
When asked by Levin, only the chiefs of the Coast Guard and Army said that leaders have been relieved of command as a result of a climate of sexual assault and harassment. (Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Papp relieved a Captain of command in 2010 because of inappropriate relationships. It is too bad he was only a junior officer and was not in a position of senior leadership in 1980 when LTJG Balboni filed her case against three senior Coast Guard officer aboard the USCGC Rush WHEC in Alameda, California.)
BALBONI v. DOT; USCG; L. Telfer, P. Keyes, A. Cascardi.
United States Coast Guard Civil Rights Hearing, DOT Case No. 82-177.
Case was heard February 6, 1984 and following at U.S. Coast Guard Base Alameda, Ca. before The Honorable Paul E. Weil, Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Transportation.
APPEARING for the United States Coast Guard;
LCDR Gary Heil, 12th Coast Guard District, Government Island, Alameda, Ca. 94501
APPEARING for Captain Larry Telfer; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
LCDR Tom Barrett, Commandant (G-L)
APPEARING for Commander Phil Keyes; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
Lcdr. Robert Allard, Commandant (G-L)
APPEARING for LT Andrew Cascardi; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
Lcdr. Michael Kudalis Commandant (G-L)
APPEARING for the COMPLAINANTS LT(jg) Christine D. Balboni and CWO Charles VanMeter,
Lcdr. London Steverson, Chief, Investigating Officer, MIO, New York, NY.
LTJG Christine D. Balboni, USCG
LTJG Ann Flamang, aka Gang-bang Flamang, USCG,
LTJG Jodie Turner, aka Diesel Dyke Turner, USCG,
LTJG Margaret Carlson, USCG Communications Officer onboard USCGc RUSH (WHEC)
Mr. Jeremiah Healy, formerly a Coast Guard enlisted man, ST2 Jerry Healy.
CDR Phil Keyes, USCG, Executive Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
LT Andrew Cascardi, USCG Operations Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
CAPT Larry Telfer, USCG, Commanding Officer, USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
CWO Charles Van Meter, USCG.
(Regulatory Authority: Pursuant to Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 1000.8A, and the U. S. Coast Guard Civil Rights Manual Commandant USCG Instruction M5350.11B)
COMPLAINT: The Complainant, LTjg Christine D. Balboni, alleges and contends that the three Alleged Discriminating Officials (ADO) discrininated against her on the basis of her sex; that they sexually harassed her; that they verbally abused and slandered her; that they created a hostile and intimidating work environment for her onboard the USCGC RUSH (WHEC) that made it impossible for her to do her job; that they circulated rumors and malicious gossip concerning her among the other officers and the enlisted men on the ship; that they memorialized this same gossip and rumors when they reduced it to writing in the form of regular and special officer fitness for duty reports that they swore to and forwarded up the chain of command; and that they did it recklessly and with knowledge of its probable affects upon her Coast Guard career. The Complainant further alleges and contends that this conduct on the part of the ADOs was unbecoming of an officer and a gentlemen, and that it was to the predjudice of good order and discipline.
EXCERPTS from the Official Transcript of the Formal Hearing on the record.
OPENING STATEMENT: (LCDR L. Steverson, Counsel for the Complainants.)
May it please the Court, Your Honor, the United States Coast Guard is the last bastion of white male supremacy among the Armed Forces of the United States. Discrimination, bias, prejudice, abuse of power, hatred, and harassment have all been employed to keep it that way. These are evils that withstand the winds of logic by the depth and toughness of their roots in the past.
It was inevitable that this case maybe even others would have to be brought to see which way the Coast Guard would go and to see wherein does justice lie.
It is only be happenstance that the Complainant in this case is LTjg Christine D. Balboni, or that the Alleged Discriminating Officials are Captain Larry Telfer, Commander Phil Keyes, and Lieutenant Andy Cascardi. They are all victims of the twin forces of history and destiny.
We believe that the evidence in this case will show that the Complainant, Ms. Balboni, has been greatly wronged. The evidence will show that the workplace onboard the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter RUSH was pervaded with sexual slurs, insults and innuendo; that Ms. Balboni was personally the object of verbal sexual harassment; that this harassment took the form of vulgar and offensive, sexually-related epithets addressed to and employed about her by the ADO’s.
We will show that she was forced to work in a hostile and intimidating environment where the walls were papered with the pictures of nude women; where pornographic movies were were regularly shown on the ship’s videotape T.V. monitors; where a prophylactic was unrolled and taped to her state room door; where male crew members bursted into her room uninvited around midnight; where she could not even close her state room door in privacy whenever a friend or a crew member of the opposite sex was in the room; where she was prohibited, ordered not to associate with the only friend that she had on the ship; where she was accused of compromising acts that had actually been done by other female members of the crew, and other acts that, in one instance, had not even occured; where she was penalized with adverse officer performance ratings, or fitness reports, as you will, because of these incidents where she was falsely accused and where no investigation or verification of the facts had been done; where her pleas to higher authority for help fell on deaf ears, or she was further demeaned by being told that she did not have the right plumbing, an obvious reference to her sex and that she was not a man, all in an atmosphere of motion pictures depicting fellatio, cunnilingus, “menage-a-tois” in the officer’s ward room during the evening meal and Sunday morning breakfast.
The Complainant, Ms. Balboni, was accused of being immoral, unethical, and unprofessional simply because she whispered and giggled with and had a close platonic friendship with a fellow officer who happened to be married.
The evidence will show that LTjg Balboni was never seen holding hands or kissing or anything else with Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter; that she was never seen by Commander Phil Keyes sitting in Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter’s lap with her arms around his neck; that she was never seen by a crew member in a male officers state room naked or with no bra on while a male officer was present. Yet she has been accused of these very acts. She has been reprimanded for these very acts.
The evidence will show that the incidents of harassment in this case were so pervasive that all of the Alleged Discriminating Officials and maybe even their supervisors were aware of them, that they had actual and constructive knowledge of the existence of a sexually hostile working environment and that they took no prompt action or in some cases no action at all to remedy the situation.
Thank you, Your Honor.
On December 19th, President Obama signed a defense authorization bill barring military commanders from overturning jury convictions or reducing sentences, and imposing stricter policies on perpetrators of sexual crimes. Additionally, the bill includes expanded legal services and resources for victims of sexual abuse.
President Obama has also ordered a review of the Pentagon?s efforts to curb sexual assault in the military ?and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes, as appropriate under the military justice system.(AP)