70 Officers Facing Navy Charges on Sexual Abuse

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The Navy announced Tuesday that it has sent the names of 70 men to their commanding officers for possible disciplinary action for their roles in the 1991 sex abuse incident at a Las Vegas pilots convention.

During the convention, Navy and Marine Corps aviators reportedly molested at least 26 women--half of them Navy officers.

Women were pushed through a gantlet of up to 200 men in a hotel hallway. Men allegedly fondled the women as they were passed up the line and in some cases removed their clothes.

Hours after an assistant Navy secretary said the service is pursuing its inquiry into the incident at the annual Tailhook Assn. convention, the Navy announced that its inspector general had referred 70 names to its command.


The individuals, whom the Navy did not identify, include six assault suspects, 57 people who were either at the gantlet or in nearby areas, five who may have violated conduct standards and two who possibly thwarted the inquiry.

“The inexcusable conduct of some naval aviators in Las Vegas, compounded by their subsequent refusal to assume responsibility for their conduct, has brought shame upon them personally and upon the Navy and Marine Corps as a whole,” Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III said.

The Navy said a previous inquiry focused on misconduct by certain individuals. The latest investigation is examining the role of the commanding officers who were responsible for hospitality suites at the convention.

Adm. Frank B. Kelso, the chief of naval operations, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr., will talk to the commanding officers to determine whether they were involved, the statement said.

In another step, Garrett ordered two fleet commanders, Adm. Paul P. D. Miller of the Atlantic Fleet and Adm. Robert J. Kelly of the Pacific Fleet, to take a closer look at the squadron commanding officers in charge of the men.

Earlier Tuesday, Barbara Spyridon Pope, an assistant Navy secretary, told lawmakers angered by the incident and the stonewalling that action against the officers will be taken this week.

“It is not over yet. We are not going to let anybody walk away who was either responsible or accountable,” Pope told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on manpower and personnel.

The Naval Investigative Service and the inspector general conducted more than 1,500 interviews during a seven-month inquiry but turned up only two primary suspects, Navy officials have said.


The Navy removed Rear Adm. John Snyder from his command at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Md., after he failed to act swiftly on a complaint by an aide who said she had been sexually harassed at the convention.