Naval Nominee Tells Senate His Regrets in Harassment Case

Associated Press

A Navy admiral nominated to command U.S. forces in the Pacific conceded to senators Friday that, as head of the Naval Academy, he could have responded better when a female midshipman was chained to a urinal by male classmates.

Adm. Joseph Prueher said he told the young woman’s father that she appeared to be smiling in photographs of the incident taken by her jeering assailants. It was a comment meant to reassure her father that the woman had not suffered excessively. But it has dogged Prueher since, even as the Navy continued to promote him to other command positions.

The victim in the December 1989 incident, Gwen Dreyer, whose father and grandfather were Naval Academy graduates, quit the academy in disgust after her assailants received lenient punishment. Two midshipmen lost leave time and were issued demerits; six others received written reprimands.

The issue of sexual harassment is doubly significant in this case because Prueher is succeeding an admiral relieved of his command after making an insensitive remark about a sexual assault case.

If the Senate confirms his nomination, Prueher will take over the largest of the military’s five regional commands. He would control not only Navy forces but all 100,000 U.S. military personnel in the Pacific.