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U.S., Soviets Probing Sexual Attack Charge : Investigation: The incident allegedly occured when the female U.S. Navy petty officer was touring a Soviet destroyer.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As three Soviet naval vessels steam for home, both the U.S. and Soviet Union are investigating allegations that a female U.S. Navy petty officer was sexually assaulted on one of the ships about 8 p.m. Tuesday, just hours after the ships arrived at San Diego Naval Station.

"(Friday) morning we learned that allegations were made by a female petty officer who said she had been sexually assaulted on board one of the Soviet ships while they were in port,” Cmdr. Doug Schamp, a U.S. Navy spokesman, said Saturday.

Schamp would not specify if the woman said she was raped.

The three ships left San Diego this morning after a five-day stay in the United States, the third in a series of reciprocal visits between the navies.

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“As of this morning, the young woman couldn’t come up with any kind of identification (of an assailant),” Schamp said.

“Everything that came out of her statement was turned over to the Soviet Navy prior to the time they departed,” he said.

The incident allegedly occurred when the woman, who was not in uniform, was separated from friends aboard one of the two Soviet destroyers that were being toured by the public, the Boyevoy and Admiral Vinogradov.

The primary jurisdiction of any offense that occurred on a Soviet ship would be the Soviet Navy’s, said Capt. Roger Smith of the Judge Advocate General Corps.

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Smith, who said he has not been involved in the investigation, said, "(The ship) is an extension of their sovereignity.”

Lt. Colonel Jerry Harke, a Pentagon spokesman, said he did not know if the Department of Defense was investigating, but that several federal agencies were.

“They are working to provide information to the Soviets and are asking the Soviets to help in ensuring that justice is served,” Harke said.

Harry Stovall, the Naval Investigative Service special-agent-in-charge of the San Diego Naval Station, would only say that his agency is investigating the incident.

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Stovall would not give any details about the case or about its jurisdiction.

At a press conference Saturday morning before the ships left for their home port of Vladivostok, Adm. Charles Larson, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said both countries were investigating the case, but he would not give details.

“Both the Soviets and ourselves share a common concern over any such allegations,” said Larson, the official host of the visit.

“We will move swiftly to determine the facts.”

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Schamp said he discussed the matter with Soviet officials, who said there was “extremely stringent security” on the ships Tuesday night.

“They said it would have been impossible for an incident to have taken place on their ship,” Schamp said.

Colonel Nicholay N. Bessubchenco, of the Soviet Political Directorate, said Friday that if the Soviet Navy determined there was evidence to prosecute a sailor, it would be done “very seriously.”

According to Schamp, the jurisdiction of the case is “very complex.”

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“It would have to be settled at two or three levels--the state department, the military, and locally,” Schamp said.

“There will probably be a wrap-up of our evaluation and everything we are able to gather will be forwarded to the Soviet Navy,” he said.

The Soviet Consulate in San Francisco did not return phone calls Saturday.

The two destroyers and an oiler, the Argun, arrived Tuesday morning after an 18-day trip across the Pacific.

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Their visit follows a Soviet Naval visit to Norfolk, Va., in July 1989, and a U.S. Navy call on the Black Sea port of Sevastopol last August.

Next month, ships from the U.S. Pacific Fleet will voyage to Vladivostok, the chief Pacific port of the Soviet Union.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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