Board of Inquiry for Navy Submarine Officer: Retained
A U.S. Navy Submarine Commander received notice of involuntary administrative separation following allegations of hazing and abusive sexual conduct by a young male Lieutenant from his wardroom. While the submarine was underway and making its last port of call before returning to Groton, CT, the Commander organized a cookout for his officers. The junior members bought a keg of beer that was used to conduct ‘keg stands’ toward the end of the evening. They convinced the Commander to do a keg stand. The men engaged in mutual horseplay during this event. Nearly three years after the submarine redeployed, the Lieutenant filed an IG complaint, which triggered an NCIS investigation, that the Commander struck him in the genitals while he performed the keg stand. The Lieutenant alleged this caused him to endure pain, embarrassment, and humiliation in the presence of both his wife and fellow Officers. The Lieutenant further criticized the Commander’s leadership style aboard the boat and accused him of various forms of hazing. During the NCIS investigation, the Commander – against counsel’s advice – admitted to striking the Lieutenant as part of the keg stand horseplay, but denied any intent for sexual gratification, or to abuse, humiliate, degrade or harass. He also denied all allegations of hazing. Because of the substantiated misconduct, the Navy initiated separation and the Commander elected his right to a board of injury. He also elected his right to retain civilian counsel at his own expense and then hired Military (Civilian) Defense Counsel, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him in this matter. Attorney Calcagni represented his client at the BOI. Though he did not allow the Commander to testify, he offered the man’s typewritten unsworn statement accepting responsibility for his actions. Attorney Calcagni also assembled and offered a mitigation packet regarding his client’s Navy career that highlighted 30 years of service, passage of time since the incident, lack of witnesses to the alleged event, stellar fitness reports, awards, decorations, endorsements from multiple Captains and Admirals, some of whom testified live at the board, and the millions of dollars in retirement benefits the Commander sought to lose if separated. Attorney Calcagni also emphasized the 3-year delayed report by the Lieutenant and his unwillingness to appear at the board to submit to cross examination. In conclusion, Attorney Calcagni persuaded the board comprised of Captains to recommend his client’s retention and continued service to the U.S. Navy.