Tuesday 24 April 2018

Sailor felt claim of sex assault 'wouldn't be believed'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A NAVAL Service sailor claimed that women who lodge sexual assault claims against fellow sailors are made to feel like traitors who have let down "the boys".

The woman said she loved the service but claimed she was sexually assaulted by a fellow sailor as she refuelled a fisheries patrol vessel in June 2012.

Midleton District Court's Judge Brian Sheridan was told that the female sailor claimed she had also been sexually assaulted on a previous occasion by another sailor four years before but had withdrawn that complaint after she was "intimidated" by three petty officers.

She said she felt her story would not be believed after the three male officers spoke to her.

She said making a complaint of this nature within a military organisation was frowned upon.

"Your crew look at you differently. They isolate you. It is not an easy place to be," she said.

The young woman also warned that other similar incidents had occurred in the navy.

"I am not the only one and I most certainly won't be the last. I felt degraded, humiliated and disgusted by what happened," she added.

HORSEPLAY

She said the incident occurred last June in an Irish port as a vessel was being refuelled.

The woman alleged the sailor involved had earlier asked her for oral sex and then, that June day, slapped her backside before twice grabbing her by her breasts as she worked refuelling the ship.

Neither can be identified while the case is ongoing.

"I was not one of these females that enjoyed this kind of encounter. I told him never to touch me again," she said.

She claimed he then laughed at her before walking away.

She later lodged a written complaint with the ship's captain and executive officer and a formal internal probe was launched.

However, she said both officers laughed when the incidents were described in detail to them.

The sailor involved, who is in his 20s, denied either slapping the woman on the backside or twice grabbing her by her breasts.

"Absolutely not . . . it never happened," he said.

Another female sailor, a friend of the defendant, said she felt any contact between him and the complainant was "messing or horseplay".

"It was harmless . . . it was not malicious. It was just a push. No, I would say there was not (sexual context)," she said.

Judge Sheridan adjourned the case to Thursday for closing submissions and his verdict.

Irish Independent

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