Kathryn’s Story

Kathryn’s Story

My story is about several incidents. The first occurred after a command inspection while I was in school in Orlando. As the Squad Leader, I asked a member of my squad to act as a recorder. We followed the Petty Officer who was acting Master at Arms as he evaluated each member of the squad. The Petty Officer made inappropriate comments about some squad members’ undergarments. The acting “yeoman” wrote down all of his comments. At the end of the inspection, the Petty Officer asked me to meet him in front of his office. I dismissed my squad and waited outside his office. Two members of the Nuclear Power school walked up and chatted with me while I waited.  They later acted as witnesses at the trial.

The Petty Officer walked back outside and began making comments about my husband’s and my relationship. He made sexual noises. I told him that was none of his business and to keep his comments on topic. He then walked behind me and snapped my bra. I told him I would report him.

I notified the Petty Officer in charge of the women’s barracks what had happened. Eventually, nine other women came forward about the way this man treated them. What happened to them is their story to tell. The nine women who came forward and I were put on legal hold and withdrawn from training. Everyone in the school knew who we were because of this. The Petty Officer chose to have a court-martial as opposed to captain’s mast. I spent over two hours on the witness stand being grilled by the defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, panel of jurors and Captain that presided. In addition to the women who came forward, two men testified.

The Petty Officer was found guilty of several counts of obscenities toward women and several counts of sexual assault. He was reduced in rank from E-6 to E-1 and was to spend six months at Leavenworth.

Unfortunately, the base commander decided she didn’t want this on her record, so the sentence was then reduced to dereliction of duty and absent from duty. The Petty Officer went back to training and onto the fleet. None of his victims received justice.

When I went back to class, my teacher refused to talk to me because he said I might bring him up on charges. Every one of the women involved in this case was improperly failed from her technical school. Only two of us were reclassified. The rest went to the fleet as Boatswain’s Mates, which isn’t a bad rate, but the scores required to qualify us for B.E. & E. School should have enabled those women to go to several other schools. When I mentioned I was going to contact my Congressman, they relented to reclassification.

My next duty station was in PyongTaek, Korea and I was one of only six women in the command of over 200 men. Being only one of six women in command there, I struggled with day-to-day living. Then, in October, a Marine who followed me home from the “ville” assaulted me in my sleep in my barracks room. He choked me while attempting to rape me. I gouged his eyes and got out of there. I screamed and women and men poured out into the hallway. His handprint was still on my neck. I had bruises that lasted for days. No report was taken. Nothing was done by the Command. The incident was written off as a “bad date” by a female petty officer.

At my next duty station, I asked my lead Petty Officer what I needed to do to become Jr. Sailor of the Quarter. He said he didn’t have all the answers, but if I went to the Family Resources Center at Camp Lester, they might help me. I started getting counseling and that’s when my life started changing for the better. I learned what I needed to do to start healing. I worked hard. By the end of my tour, I was a 4.0 Sailor and Junior Sailor of the Quarter. I knew I was more than a victim and that I wasn’t going to leave the Navy as one.

These are events that have happened in my life. They are no longer the deciding factor of my happiness. When flare-ups happen, and they will, I know I have the tools to deal with them. I now face each day as an opportunity to thrive, not just survive.