A much-decorated Navy captain became the highest-ranking naval officer to face court-martial in decades as his trial opened here Wednesday on charges he engaged in "unduly familiar personal relationships" with two female subordinates.
Capt. Everett L. Greene, who headed a Navy equal-opportunity office at the time of the alleged incidents, sent poems, letters and greeting cards to the two women, telephoned them at home and gave one of them a bag of gum and an old pair of men's jogging shorts and shirt. Neither woman alleged any physical contact.
Senior Navy officials at the Pentagon, speaking anonymously, said the Navy believed the case should have been resolved with an agreement on some sort of administrative punishment. "At minimum this is a case of bad judgment," said a Navy official familiar with the case. "It's not something you want to give a felony for."
However Greene, whose promotion to rear admiral has been put on hold pending the trial, refused administrative punishment ranging from fines to written reprimands, some of which can effectively stop an officer from being promoted. Greene's lawyer said he refused that route because the two superior officers who would decide on the punishment "were not acceptable." That left Navy officials with the option of dropping the matter completely or proceeding with a court-martial, officials said.
Greene does not dispute that he gave the women the missives and gifts. But he said Wednesday in an interview that he had done nothing improper. He sent some of the letters "to boost the morale" of Lt. Mary E. Felix, who was having health problems and had broken up with a boyfriend when she began working for him on the Bureau of Naval Personnel's sexual-harassment complaint hot line. He said he sent other letters "to confront" the women about rumors he said they were untruthfully spreading about his intentions toward them.