Tailhook Suspect to Get a Hearing, Not a Court-Martial

from Associated Press

A Navy lieutenant who had been slated for a Tailhook court-martial next month will instead face an administrative hearing, his attorney and the Navy said Friday.

Lt. Rolando A. Diaz, 35, is facing a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. He is accused of shaving a woman's pubic hair at the 1991 Tailhook Assn. convention in Las Vegas.

Diaz won a new review of his case last week, but the review failed to overturn the charge.

But he was allowed to have the administrative proceeding, or admiral's mast, rather than a criminal trial because he initially had been offered the administrative proceeding to resolve his case.

Vice Adm. J. Paul Reason, the senior officer who is deciding how to handle Tailhook disciplines, is considering holding an admiral's mast this week, said Cmdr. John Tull, a spokesman for Reason.

Robert Rae, the attorney for Diaz, said Reason probably will hear his client's case on Thursday. The proceeding is expected to be private.

"There's no criminal connotation whatsoever" with an admiral's mast, Rae said. "I think he's facing some sort of fine that probably will be suspended and a letter that would go in his record saying he shouldn't have done what he did."

On Monday, another Navy officer, Lt. Cole V. Cowden, 32, had a conduct unbecoming charge against him withdrawn by Reason following a new review of the evidence.

The dismissal of Cowden's case and the administrative proceeding for Diaz leave only three Navy officers facing courts-martial for Tailhook:

* Cmdr. Gregory E. Tritt, 43, scheduled to go on trial Oct. 12 at the Norfolk Naval Base on charges of assault, conduct unbecoming an officer and making a false statement.

* Lt. David Samples, 28, charged with assault and facing trial Oct. 27.

* Cmdr. Thomas R. Miller, 47, with a Nov. 8 trial date on charges of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and obstruction of justice.

Marine Corps Capt. Gregory J. Bonam is being considered for court-martial on an assault charge. Bonam's case is under review at the Quantico Marine Base outside Washington.

Pentagon investigators concluded that more than 80 women were assaulted or sexually harassed by drunken aviators attending the convention.

The fliers formed a gantlet down one hall of a hotel and groped and fondled women who came down the hall, investigators have charged.

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