As the Pentagon begins a year-long inquiry into why child abuse is rapidly increasing throughout the U.S Armed Services, a Navy officer who sexually abused his own two children was not only given a pass by Navy brass, he got a promotion.
The case was exposed in a recent story in the Virginian-Pilot, a newspaper based in Norfolk, Va., and the details are chilling. Four years ago, according to evidence and testimony amassed by Child Protective Services in Virginia, the Navy lieutenant — who was not named by the newspaper in order to protect the privacy of his traumatized kids — raped his 13-year-old daughter, pinning her to a bed and forcing himself on her after two years of touching her in inappropriate ways.
In the years since the 2009 rape, the girl has suffered severe depression and anxiety, along with suicidal thoughts and a stomach ulcer.
The lieutenant also abused his 10-year-old son, according to the social workers on the case, repeatedly touching the boy’s genitals through his clothes and on one occasion, tying the boy up, duct-taping his mouth shut then forcing him to watch as the lieutenant had sex with a girlfriend.
The lieutenant had separated from his wife, the children’s mother, at the time. When a judge decided that the wife’s allegations of child abuse could hurt the officer’s Navy career, he cited her for contempt of court and ordered her to pay a $5,000 fine, which she can’t afford, or spend 10 days in jail.
Nonetheless, social workers placed the officer's name on the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry and obtained a court order forbidding him from coming within two miles of his children — he has four — until they each turn 18.
The lieutenant signed a document admitting to Child Protection authorities that he committed “Level 2” abuse against his daughter. The social workers accused him of Level 1 abuse, which means that the child suffered “serious harm” as a result. Level 2 means the child endured “moderate” harm.
Despite the evidence, including his own admission, the Navy cleared the officer and let him keep his $96,000 per year job, with a promotion.
In fact, the newspaper examined 1,400 child abuse allegations against U.S. Navy service members and found that the Navy threw out half of them as “unsubstantiated.”
After the Virginian-Pilot story ran, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service opened a new investigation into the abuse allegations against the lieutenant.
In 2011 and 2012, the four branches of the armed forces had 12,881 cases of child abuse and neglect reported, 67 of them leading to the death of a child. More than 750 were sexual assault cases.
In the Navy alone, 42 children died from abuse and neglect from 2008 to 2012. From 2009 to 2012, the Navy had 3,336 child abuse and neglect cases.
In November, the Defense Department announced that it was forming a special working group to investigate the military child abuse epidemic. The group is expected to release its first report in February, part of a projected year-long study.
SOURCES: Virginian-Pilot, Navy Times