A senior enlisted sailor who successfully resisted Navy efforts to discharge him after he described himself as homosexual in an anonymous computer message has accepted early retirement in return for a Navy promise of full retirement benefits and payment of $90,000 in legal fees.
In a separate settlement also disclosed Friday, America Online, the nation's largest online computer service, agreed to pay the sailor, Timothy R. McVeigh, an undisclosed sum in damages for violating his privacy. It was an AOL employee who confirmed to a Navy investigator that McVeigh, a master chief petty officer, was the author of an anonymous "profile page" on the online service.
The Navy's moves to uncover McVeigh's identity behind an Internet disguise, then drive him out of the service, had brought allegations that the service was trampling not only Pentagon guidelines for investigating suspected homosexuals but also federal statutes meant to protect the privacy of Internet users.
A federal judge concurred, blocking the Navy in January from discharging McVeigh.
The Navy, eager to appeal, was pressed into accepting a settlement by Clinton administration officials who considered the case legally weak and a political liability, said a senior military officer.
McVeigh, 36, is not related to the Oklahoma City bomber.