Google

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Balboni's tale of Sex Harassment on Coast Guard "Love Boat"



BALBONI v. DOT; USCG; L. Telfer, P. Keyes, A. Cascardi.

United States Coast Guard Civil Rights Hearing, DOT Case No. 82-177.

Case was heard February 6, 1984 and following at U.S. Coast Guard Base Alameda, Ca. before The Honorable Paul E. Weil, Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Transportation.

APPEARING for the United States Coast Guard;
LCDR Gary Heil, 12th Coast Guard District, Government Island, Alameda, Ca. 94501

APPEARING for Captain Larry Telfer; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
LCDR Tom Barrett, Commandant (G-L)

APPEARING for Commander Phil Keyes; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
Lcdr. Robert Allard, Commandant (G-L)

APPEARING for LT Andrew Cascardi; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)
Lcdr. Michael Kudalis Commandant (G-L)

APPEARING for the COMPLAINANTS LT(jg) Christine D. Balboni and CWO Charles VanMeter,
Lcdr. London Steverson, Chief, Investigating Officer, MIO, New York, NY.

WITNESSES:
LTJG Christine D. Balboni, USCG
LTJG Ann Flamang, aka Gang-bang Flamang, USCG,
LTJG Jodie Turner, aka Diesel Dyke Turner, USCG,
LTJG Margaret Carlson, USCG Communications Officer onboard USCGc RUSH (WHEC)
Mr. Jeremiah Healy, formerly a Coast Guard enlisted man, ST2 Jerry Healy.
MST1 Smith.
CDR Phil Keyes, USCG, Executive Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
LT Andrew Cascardi, USCG Operations Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
CAPT Larry Telfer, USCG, Commanding Officer, USCGC RUSH (WHEC)
CWO Charles Van Meter, USCG.

(Regulatory Authority: Pursuant to Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 1000.8A, and the U. S. Coast Guard Civil Rights Manual Commandant USCG Instruction M5350.11B)

COMPLAINT: The Complainant, LTjg Christine D. Balboni, alleges and contends that the three Alleged Discriminating Officials (ADO) discrininated against her on the basis of her sex; that they sexually harassed her; that they verbally abused and slandered her; that they created a hostile and intimidating work environment for her onboard the USCGC RUSH (WHEC) that made it impossible for her to do her job; that they circulated rumors and malicious gossip concerning her among the other officers and the enlisted men on the ship; that they memorialized this same gossip and rumors when they reduced it to writing in the form of regular and special officer fitness for duty reports that they swore to and forwarded up the chain of command; and that they did it recklessly and with knowledge of its probable affects upon her Coast Guard career. The Complainant further alleges and contends that this conduct on the part of the ADOs was unbecoming of an officer and a gentlemen, and that it was to the predjudice of good order and discipline.

EXCERPTS from the Official Transcript of the Formal Hearing on the record.

OPENING STATEMENT: (LCDR L. Steverson, Counsel for the Complainants.)
May it please the Court, Your Honor, the United States Coast Guard is the last bastion of white male supremacy among the Armed Forces of the United States. Discrimination, bias, prejudice, abuse of power, hatred, and harassment have all been employed to keep it that way. These are evils that withstand the winds of logic by the depth and toughness of their roots in the past.
It was inevitable that this case maybe even others would have to be brought to see which way the Coast Guard would go and to see wherein does justice lie.
It is only be happenstance that the Complainant in this case is LTjg Christine D. Balboni, or that the Alleged Discriminating Officials are Captain Larry Telfer, Commander Phil Keyes, and Lieutenant Andy Cascardi. They are all victims of the twin forces of history and destiny.
We believe that the evidence in this case will show that the Complainant, Ms. Balboni, has been greatly wronged. The evidence will show that the workplace onboard the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter RUSH was pervaded with sexual slurs, insults and innuendo; that Ms. Balboni was personally the object of verbal sexual harassment; that this harassment took the form of vulgar and offensive, sexually-related epithets addressed to and employed about her by the ADO's.
We will show that she was forced to work in a hostile and intimidating environment where the walls were papered with the pictures of nude women; where pornographic movies were were regularly shown on the ship's videotape T.V. monitors; where a prophylactic was unrolled and taped to her state room door; where male crew members bursted into her room uninvited around midnight; where she could not even close her state room door in privacy whenever a friend or a crew member of the opposite sex was in the room; where she was prohibited, ordered not to associate with the only friend that she had on the ship; where she was accused of compromising acts that had actually been done by other female members of the crew, and other acts that, in one instance, had not even occured; where she was penalized with adverse officer performance ratings, or fitness reports, as you will, because of these incidents where she was falsely accused and where no investigation or verification of the facts had been done; where her pleas to higher authority for help fell on deaf ears, or she was further demeaned by being told that she did not have the right plumbing, an obvious reference to her sex and that she was not a man, all in an atmosphere of motion pictures depicting fellatio, cunnilingus, "menage-a-tois" in the officer's ward room during the evening meal and Sunday morning breakfast.
The Complainant, Ms. Balboni, was accused of being immoral, unethical, and unprofessional simply because she whispered and giggled with and had a close platonic friendship with a fellow officer who happened to be married.
The evidence will show that LTjg Balboni was never seen holding hands or kissing or anything else with Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter; that she was never seen by Commander Phil Keyes sitting in Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter's lap with her arms around his neck; that she was never seen by a crew member in a male officers state room naked or with no bra on while a male officer was present. Yet she has been accused of these very acts. She has been reprimanded for these very acts.
The evidence will show that the incidents of harassment in this case were so pervasive that all of the Alleged Discriminating Officials and maybe even their supervisors were aware of them, that they had actual and constructive knowledge of the existence of a sexually hostile working environment and that they took no prompt action or in some cases no action at all to remedy the situation.
Thank you, Your Honor.


OPENING STATEMENT: (LCDR Gary Heil, Counsel for the US Coast Guard)
May it please the court, Your Honor, this case is going to be a case that if limited to the allegations, will show something significantly different than what was described by LCDR Steverson. Some of what Mr. Steverson has described possibly, you know, may be shown at the Hearing. Much of it is not going to be that way, I think.

I would like to prepare you for what's going to happen with the evidence from the Government's perspective along the lines of the specific allegations made by Ms. Balboni that were certified to be heard at this Hearing.

The first one being that she was discriminated against by CAPT Larry Telfer because he prohibited her association with CWO Charles Van Meter. The evidence will show clearly that neither CAPT Telfer nor CAPT Phil Kies nor LCDR Andrew Cascardi nor anybody else in the Coast Guard tried to prohibit her association with Mr. Van Meter.

What the evidence will show is that the officers in question tried to limit the outward manifestations of those behaviors in the workplace. They tried to limit the amount that these officers were seen together in ways that could be perceived by the crew as being somewhat unprofessional in their relationship.

The Second Allegation is Ms. Balboni's allegation that she was discriminated against because of her sex by CAPT Telfer because he asked for her immediate transfer to keep her from associating with Mr. Van Meter.

Your Honor, I think the evidence will show that CAPT Telfer requested her immediate transfer because, after repeated counselling with Ms. Balboni and Mr. Van Meter refused to act in a way that would quell the kind of rumors and the kind of problems that had caused them real problems in the workplace.
For instance, the evidence will show that the Engineering Officer had to become the first line supervisor because of their relationship when Mr. Van Meter could not be found.
For instance, the evidence will show that Ms. Balboni's work sufferred tremendously because of their relationship in that when they were suppossed to be working or she was supposed to be working on Morale work, they were working together doing something else and the Morale job never got done.

In the Third Allegation, Your Honor, she says that she was discrimated against because the crew was allowed to believe that she was involved in two incidents that occurred on 28-29 August and 7 September 1981 which never were investigated until nine months later.

Your Honor, neither CAPT Telfer nor Capt Kies did anything with the crew, as the evidence will show, to promote that these things were Ms. Balboni. As a matter of fact, in at least one instance, the evidence will show that they didn't know who it was, and that the informer who brought up the incident in question wasn't even asked who it was for some period afterwards.

She alleges in her next allegation, Your Honor, that she was discriminated against because of her sex by CAPT Telfer who wrote a special fitness report on her because he did not approve of her friendship with CWO Van Meter.

Your Honor, again, this is the same allegation as we stated. The evidence will show that it wasn't the friendship that the Coast Guard objected to. What they objected to was the continual presence of the two in each other's company in their state rooms, on the Bridge, and on watch.

The evidence will show and other officers will testify that whenever they wanted to find them, they found them together. It was this togetherness that caused them management problems at work that they absolutely refused to change.

The evidence will show that when this Open-door policy was instigated by CAPT Telfer, the other officers on theship tried to keep a low profile as to any relationships that were happening at work, where on the otherhand Ms. Balboni and Mr. Van Meter flaunted their relationship.

The evidence will show also, Your Honor, that their relationship or friendship was more than a normal friendship between ward room officers.

The next allegation says that Ms. Balboni was discriminated against because of her sex by CAPT Telfer when he promulgated a ship-wide policy on male-female relationships designed to weaken and destroy her relationship with Mr. Van Meter, and the next one that required women to have open doors anytime they were in the same room or space with someone of the opposite gender.

Your Honor, such a policy, the evidence will show was promulgated. The evidence will show that the purpose of such a policy was not to destroy a friendship-- it applied evenly between males and females. What the policy, the evidence will show, was to do was to deter the kind of rumors that Ms. Balboni complains about.

There were rumors about the ship, and the evidence will show that. What the Command was interested in stopping is the rumors, because the rumors were causing them specific management problems on te jobs which took their time and counseling to do.

The evidence will show, Your Honor, that the rumors were not unfounded. They were not rumors of no basis. The evidence will show that Ms. Balboni herself had physical relationships of types with members of the crew on the ship and while the ship was underway away from home port.

We will hear from enlisted men, such as, MST1 Smith and ST2 Healy. We will hear from MST1 Smith about the incident in the O Lab in which MST1 Smith will say contrary to Ms. Balboni's sworn statement, that this was not the first time that they were in the O Lab behind a locked door.
MST1 Smith will say that this was the fourth time behind the locked door, and he will say that they kissed, that they hugged, and that they petted.
I have a sworn statement from ST2 Healy, and he will testify also that similar behavior happened on a custody crew in which Ms. Balboni was stationed when they rode a Korean vessel back to the shores.

Your Honor, I also have a tape of a sworn statement from when ST2 Healy was interviewed by a Coast Guard Intelligence Agent. I have a transcript of the taped interview; and, I have a a statement from the investigator who took Healy's statement. ST2 Healy will testify that Ms. Balboni and he met where Ms. Balboni was staying on the Korean vessel, on several occasions, and I quote "acted like high school kids, light petting". Those are the words that Healy used. MST2 Smith will testify to similar behavior from Ms. Balboni in the MST lab behind locked doors. Healy said that Ms. Balboni came on to him. I might add that he was super protective of Ms. Balboni. We believe that Healy withheld evidence because he has an axe to grind against the Coast Guard. But his statement still has a lot of information in it. The statement is very important because it speaks of the exact same kind of behavior, Your Honor, that MST1 Smith will testify to. This is the kind of information that CAPT Telfer himself couldn't know when he did the investigation because he never asked the right questions.

The rumors that were happening, Your Honor, they were not unfounded, gossipy rumors. They were true and they were causing real management problems, and CAPT Telfer's open-door policy was not an attempt to break up their friendship, but an attempt to corral these kinds of rumors so that he could manage the ship so that they could get the job done.

I will point out that the evidence will show that both of these people who we have statements from of this kind of conduct worked in the same Division as Ms. Balboni, the Operations Division.

Next, Ms. Balboni is alleging that she was harassed because of her sex when CAPT Telfer ordered her to stand at attention for two-wnd-q-half hours while he yelled and screamed at her about her relationship with Mr. Van Meter.

Your Honor, the evidence will show that she was allowed to stand easy; she was asked if she wanted to sit down, and it was a counseling session, a correctice counseling session where two officers didn't see eye to eye, that kind of relationship at work, not because of her sex, merely because of her behavior in failing to keep her professional conduct professional at work.

Next, Your Honor, she's alleging that CAPT Telfer harassed her because he accused her of being the cause of the marital problems between Mr. and Mrs. Van Meter.
I think the evidence will show that that wasn't harassment, Your Honor, but I think what the evidence will show is that the captain did ask her or relay to her that he had been told that she was the problem. The evidence will show that Mrs. Van Meter made numerous complaints to officers on the ship and to their wives that Ms. Balboni was breaking up their marriage.

The evidence will show that Mrs. Van Meter told an officer in the ward room who will testify here, Your Honor, that if she didn't stay away from her husband that Mrs. Van Meter was going to do her bodily harm.

The evidence will show that Mrs. Van Meter called CAPT Telfer on at least one occasion to complain and to ask him to take action. The evidence will show that CAPT Kies got repeated calls from Mrs. Van Meter asking where her husband was at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, and asking "How come he had to leave for the ship?"

The evidence will show, Your Honor, that specific problems in a closed unit where you have to manage a system that lives together day and night was causing so many problems that the ward room started to break apart, there were personal problems going back and forth, and those were the problems they had to manage somehow.

The evidence will show that they did have an open-door policy and they did try to counsel the complainant, Ms. Balboni, about those issues; but, not to the point of discriminating against her because of her sex.

The next allegation, Your Honor, says that she was harassed by CAPT Telfer when he called her the sexpot of the world.

I think, Your Honor, the evidence will show that what happened was that CAPT Telfer said words to the effect that she should be behaving in a way that didn't lead the crew and everybody else to believe that she was the sexpot of the world, or words to that effect.

He was counseling her to stop the behavior that was causing her problems day in and day out. That is what the evidence will show, Your Honor.

Ms. Balboni alleges that she was harassed by CAPT Telfer because of her sex when he referred to rumors and perceptions and ordered Ms. Balboni not to be friends with CWO Charles Van Meter.

Your Honor, I think that CAPT Telfer, the evidence will show, did refer to those rumors and the gossip. Those were the specific rumors and gossip that caused CAPT Telfer, CAPT Kies and LT Cascardi problems day in and day out in trying to lead Ms. Balboni to do a job. I think that, as I said earlier, the evidence will show that CAPT Telfer never ordered her not to be friends CWO Van Meter.

As a matter of fact, Your Honor, the evidence will show that when he recommended transfer to two units within the 12th District, within this District, he was trying to transfer them to units close enough to each other so that they could still have a friendship.
What he wanted, the evidence will show, what he wanted was a relationship where they could continue discreetly off the ship because it was causing management problems for him.

As a matter of fact, the evidence will show that CAPT Kies said very specifically, "I don't care what you and Van--'as CAPT Kies referred to CWO Van Meter'--what you and Van do off the ship, but on the ship you've got to cool it. You've got to stop behaving like this because it is causing me problems, and it's causing LT Cascardi problems". It was because of those problems that CAPT Telfer felt he needed to take some action.

Next, Ms. Balboni alleges that she was discriminated against because of he sex by CAPT Kies, the Executive Officer, when he informed her that, "you are not accepted by the Operations Officer because you don't have the right plumbing".

Your Honor, I submit that on the face--I'm not sure what this one means, the words, but what the evidence will show actually happened with the allegation is that CAPT Kies told Ms. Balboni, when Ms. Balboni came to him for counseling, that there was a difference between men and women and that with an integration into any social system, we all know tat there are differences. Everybody was treated the same.

CAPT Kies will testify that he probably did not use the right words whe he said "the right plumbing", but the clear intention was not that she didn't have the right plumbing but that he was pointing out that everyone is different and that we have to get along, not that Mr. Cascardi didn't like her because she was a woman. (sic)

Ms. Balboni alleges that she was discriminated against when CAPT Kies informed her that her fitness report was graded down because of her friendship with CWO Van Meter.

Your honor, again the evidence will show it's not the friendship; it's the outward manifestation of their behavior together not their presence in the wardroom. As a matter of fact this is part of the problem that they had in trying to get their job done that caused the problem. It was the rumors and inuendoes, the evidence will show, that was caused as much by Ms. Balboni herself and her ability not to have relationships with other members of the crew underway which caused the rumors and gossip and which caused the management problems which, of course, led to more counseling, which made it harder to get the job done, and poor work performance. It was the work performance that was the issue, not the friendship.

The evidence will show, Your Honor, on the next charge that Ms. Balboni's own admission in her own statement, not her own affidavit, the agreement, when she finished her appointment at the Human Rights District Office for which she had permission to be there, she was ordered to return immediately to the ship because there was a performance problem that Mr. Cascardi was responsible for getting done that was not done.

Ms. Balboni says that she was discriminated against by LT Cascardi because LT Cascardi ordered her to return to the ship even though at the time she had permission to be at the District Office.
The evidence, from her own testimony, will show that she was ordered to rush back from the offices when she was finished. She alleges that she was discriminated against by LT Cascardi because of her sex by his assigning extra work to the women.

Well, LT Margaret Carlson, who also worked for LT Cascardi, will testify that the women didn't get any more extra work than the men. The evidence will show that not only didn't Ms. Balboni get any more work than anyone else, the evidence will clearly show that she did not do the work that she was assigned and the work was no more than anyone else had.

The evidence will show that CWO Van Meter did much of the work that Ms. Balboni was assigned. The evidence will show that Mr. Van Meter did this work for Ms. Balboni even when he was not assigned as her assistant as Morale Officer.

The evidence will show that CWO Van Meter was relieved as assistant Morale Officer at some time in early December and that he continued to do her work for her, including morale reports, after specifically being ordered not to do so by CAPT Kies.

The evidence will show that CAPT Kies ordered CWO Van Meter relieved of the assistant Morale Officer because the time they were spending together was causing rumors and inuendos and he was trying to protect her from those rumors and inuendos. So, he had CWO Van Meter relieved, and still Mr. Van Meter and Ms. Balboni continued to flaunt their relationship.

The last allegation, Your Honor, says that she was the victim of continued and repeated harrassment from January 25 to Aprl 26 by CAPT Kies and LT Cascardi.

I don't know what the evidence will show on that, Your Honor, because as we talked before in the Motions before trial, that's hardly specific enough for me to understand what the harrassment would be.

In short, Your Honor, it's a simple case of a management problem which was caused by the Claimant's own behavior. The Captain heard the rumors; he heard the inuendos; he heard the gossip. It caused him some management problems. He instituted ruls, most of the other officers accepted the rules, whether they liked it or not.

The evidence will show that they put down the command in front of everyone on the ship; they made comments about the captain. The evidence will show that they were derogatory in nature, made to undermine; that Ms. Balboni specifically had relationships on the ship with enlisted members of the crew which caused the rumors to get worse, to cause the management problems to get worse.

When CAPT Telfer had to take some action, Balboni and Van Meter were counselled on several occasions; they did not take any action about it; their relationship continued; and Mr. Van Meter was warned that Mrs. Van Meter kept calling everyone on the ship and trying to get some action from everyone on the ship; that Mr. Van Meter and Ms. Balboni put the Command in such an awkward position that to get the job done became very difficult.

When it became very difficult, what the Command did was treat both of them very evenly--counsel themm, give them a chance to correct their conduct. Still they continued to flaunt their conduct, to the point of, as the evidence will show, that they were always together and the engineers had trouble finding Mr. Van Meter, and everytime they did find hhim, 90 percent of the time he was in Ms. Balboni's stateroom. What we have here is a management problem that became impossible to solve because of the recalcitrance of the two complainants.

Thank you, Your Honor.


FINDINGS OF FACT:

ADJUDGED AND ORDERED:


EPILOGUE:
Not one of the Alleged Discriminating Officials (ADO) was disciplined or punished. The sworn charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) against all three officers were dismissed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. No rational reasons were given.
 Captain Larry Telfer was transferred to Coast Guard Headquarters,  and his attorney representative, LCDR Tom Barrett eventually was promoted to Vice Admiral of the Coast Guard.
Commander Phil Keyes was promoted to Captain and selected to attend post graduate training at the Command and Staff College.
Lieutenant Andy Cascardi was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
As the allegations in her complaint were proved to be true, all of the relief that LTJG Balboni requested was granted. She was not transferred from the CGC RUSH prematurely. The regular reports and the special fitness reports written concerning her were expunged from her service record. They were replaced with new reports for continuity purposes. She was never passed over for promotion.
Christine D. Balboni was rehabilitated and welcomed back into the brotherhood of the officer corps. She received her Masters of Science degree from George Mason University in 1995. She is presently a Captain on active duty in the United States Coast Guard. She retired as a Coast Guard Captain.

In 2002 Vice Admiral Tom Barrett became the first judge advocate to serve as Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard. (See page 10 of the link below:
 http://www.uscg.mil/legal/CGJAG%20History.pdf

Lcdr Steverson congratulates Balboni on her continued good fortune at her wedding.


Lcdr. London Steverson, Ensign Balboni's attorney was the only officer punished after the sorry saga of sexual harassment on the high seas. He had not asked for the case. He had been ordered to take it and to represent her zealously within the bounds of the law. He did his job too well. He was passed over for promotion to the next higher rank. He was passed over every year for the next ten years. He was forced to retire from active duty in 1988 having not been selected for promotion to commander.
He was Black.

(POST SCRIPT) Twenty-nine years later the U. S. Navy is hit with a similar incident of sexually explicit videos being shown on board a vessel. How did the Navy handling of the situation differ from that of the Coast Guard?

USS ENTERPRISE VIDEO SCANDAL: NAVY COMMANDER REVEALED AS THE MASTERMIND BEHIND RAUNCHY VIDEOS.
UPDATED: This story has been updated to include the full statement released by the U.S. Navy on matters addressed in the story below.

Owen Honors, Captain of the Norfolk-based USS Enterprise, was revealed as the producer of a series of "raunchy" videos made aboard the Navy carrier several years ago in a report released by the Virginian-Pilot on Saturday.

Filmed in 2006 and 2007 when Honors was the Enterprises's executive officer, the clips were reportedly shown to 6,000 sailors and U.S. Marines on the ship as part of what was called "XO Movie Night."
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/01/uss-enterprise-video-scandal_n_803263.html)

In one scene, two female Navy sailors stand in a shower stall aboard the aircraft carrier, pretending to wash each other. They joke about how they should get six minutes under the water instead of the mandated three.

In other skits, sailors parade in drag, use anti-gay slurs, and simulate masturbation and a rectal exam. Another scene implies that an officer is having sex in his stateroom with a donkey.

The videos created onboard USS Enterprise in 2006-2007 and written about in The Virginian-Pilot article on Saturday, January 1, 2011, are clearly inappropriate. Production of videos, like the ones produced four to five years ago on USS Enterprise and now being written about in The Virginian-Pilot, were not acceptable then and are not acceptable in today's Navy. The Navy does not endorse or condone these kinds of actions. Those in command, Commanding Officers, Executive Officers, and Command Master Chiefs (the command triad) are charged to lead by example and are held accountable for setting the proper tone and upholding the standards of honor, courage and commitment that we expect Sailors to exemplify. U.S. Fleet Forces Command has initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the production of these videos.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=cNEyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Pu8FAAAAIBAJ&dq=london%20steverson&pg=1336%2C997934

http://militarynjustice.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/female-officer-defends-honor/

Labels:

7 Comments:

Blogger ichbinalj said...

R 172011Z JUL 06
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-1//
TO ALCOAST
BT
UNCLAS //N01500//
ALCOAST 384/06
COMDTNOTE 1500
SUBJ: 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION, U.S. COAST GUARD ACADEMY
1. ON 28 JUNE 1976 WOMEN ENROLLED AS CADETS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN
THE ACADEMYS 101-YEAR HISTORY. THE 30-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THAT DATE
IS BEING OBSERVED THIS YEAR. ACCORDINGLY, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE
COAST GUARD ACADEMY IS SPONSORING A YEARLONG COMMEMORATIVE EVENT TO
RECOGNIZE THE PROGRESSIVE SPIRIT THAT FIRST OPENED THE ACADEMY TO
WOMEN. THE EVENT, ENTITLED STRONG TRADITIONS, NEW HORIZONS, CREATES
A STRUCTURED DIALOGUE THAT WILL PAVE THE WAY FOR AN EVEN MORE
DIVERSE FACULTY, STAFF, AND OFFICER CORPS. THIS DIALOGUE ON GENDER,
DIVERSITY, LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE TAKES PLACE FROM JULY 2006 TO
JULY 2007.
2. MAJOR COMPONENTS OF THE COMMEMORATION INCLUDE THE WOMENS
CONFERENCE ON 25-26 AUGUST 2006, AND THE NEW HORIZONS GENDER
PROJECT.
A. VADM VIVIEN CREA, VICE COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD, WILL GIVE
THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS DURING THE EVENING MEAL AT THE CONFERENCE ON
AUGUST 25. THE WOMENS CONFERENCE WILL INVOLVE MEN AND WOMEN CADETS,
OFFICER CANDIDATES, ACADEMY GRADUATES, SERVICE MEMBERS, FACULTY,
INSTRUCTORS AND STAFF IN DISCUSSION OF LEADERSHIP TOPICS RELEVANT
TO SUSTAINING A HIGH PERFORMING, GENDER-INTEGRATED OFFICER
WORKFORCE. AREAS OF EMPHASIS INCLUDE HISTORICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL
PERSPECTIVES, BALANCING PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES, THE FIRST
TOUR EXPERIENCE, AND PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT.
B. THE NEW HORIZONS GENDER PROJECT IS A SEMINAR SERIES ON TOPICS
ESPECIALLY RELEVANT TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN CADETS, OFFICER
CANDIDATES, AND JUNIOR OFFICERS. EACH SEMINAR WILL INVOLVE A
PROMINENT KEYNOTE SPEAKER AND WORKSHOP SESSION. GRADUATES OF THE
ACADEMY, AND ALL SERVICE PERSONNEL ARE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGED TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE NEW HORIZONS WORKSHOPS WHICH WILL OCCUR
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
3. AS THE COMMISSIONING SOURCE FOR ALL COAST GUARD OFFICERS, THE
ACADEMYS SUCCESS IN DIVERSIFYING, EDUCATING, AND TRAINING FUTURE
LEADERS IS CRITICAL TO THE SERVICE. THIS EVENT WILL ASSIST FUTURE
OFFICERS TO LEAD MORE CAPABLY, IMPROVE WOMENS EXPERIENCES IN THE
SERVICE, AND IMPROVE THE READINESS OF THE COAST GUARD AS A WHOLE.
THEREFORE, I ENCOURAGE COAST GUARD PERSONNEL, PARTICULARLY
GRADUATES OF THE ACADEMY, AND THOSE DIRECTLY LEADING JUNIOR
OFFICERS, TO PARTICIPATE IN THESE EVENTS.
4. UNIT FUNDED PER DIEM ORDERS ARE AUTHORIZED FOR PANELISTS,
SPEAKERS, AND ATTENDEES OF THE WOMENS CONFERENCE AND NEW HORIZONS
GENDER PROJECT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GUIDELINES SET BY THE
SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. COAST GUARD ACADEMY. REGISTRATION FOR THE
WOMENS CONFERENCE IS OPEN TO 200 PERSONNEL NOT ASSIGNED TO THE
ACADEMY.
5. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE 30 YEAR COMMEMORATION, INCLUDING
REGISTRATION, LODGING AND TRAVEL GO TO WWW.USCGA.EDU AND SELECT THE
ANNIVERSARY ICON.
6. POC(S) AT USCGA ARE MR ANTONIO FARIAS, EMAIL TO AFARIAS (AT)
EXMAIL.USCGA.EDU, PHONE (860)701-6702 AND CAPT SUSAN BIBEAU, EMAIL
TO SBIBEAU (AT) EXMAIL.USCGA.EDU, PHONE (860)701-6709.
7. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.
8. RADM C.I. PEARSON, ASSISTANT COMMANDANT FOR HUMAN RESOURCES,
SENDS.
BT
NNNN

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That must have been one devil of a double bind. Do well and get punished, or let an innocent woman be thrown out. I do not envy the position that you found yourself.

Why were you chosen to represent her? was it a deliberate attempt to derail your career or was that something that was used against you later. I'd have to think that it was deliberate due to the fact that no one was punished except you.

It looks like the Coast Guard tried to "kill two birds with one stone" with this case.

3:02 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Dear Anonymous,
This is in response to your comment. I was an Assistant District Legal Officer in the 12th District Legal Office in San Francisco, Ca. My boss, and Academy Classmate,Cdr Ron Mathews, ordered me to listen to the facts of the case and then give Ensign Chris Balboni and CWO Charles Van Meter all the legal assistance that I could.
So, I listened to the case. We formed an attorney-client relationship and the process was begun. I had no idea where it would take us. The DOT/USCG had many opportunities along the way to resolve the case, but they would not yield or budge.
Up to that point I had never lost a Civil Rights case. I had even represented the Agency (The USCG) and won cases for captains who were as guilty as sin.
In those cases nothing terrible happened to me. I was congratulated and received good fitness reports.
None of the cases received as must publicity as the Balboni case, however. Female officers were new to the Coast Guard. Reporters and television crews were sent to Alameda Island to wait outside of the court room and interview Balboni. It was a San Jose Mercury News reporter who dubbed the ship the "Coast Guard Loveboat".
Any other officer, white officer, who would have taken that case and won it would have been hailed and acclaimed as a great lawyer, advocate, and worthy of greater responsibility; except that, most other white legal officers would not have won the case. Moreover, they would not have taken the case any further than giving Balboni and VanMeter a lot of office counselling and then sending them on their merry way. They would have told them that to take their case might ruin the careers of 3 fine white male officers. And Balboni would have been left without a legal remedy because no other lawyer in the Coast Guard would have risked the ire of the other senior officers by arguing a case with those facts in court. It would have been perfectly acceptable to sacrifice one female ensign and save the careers of 3 senior male officers. When she was exonerated, they had to blame someone for the expense and the embarrassment. It was then that I began to hear rumors that I had put Balboni and VanMeter up to that scheme because I wanted to embarrass the Coast Guard. The fact was that I did not know Balboni or VanMeter existed before they walked into my office escorted by Cdr Ron Mathews.
This is essentially what Ron Mathews had told me to do. He has already counselled them. He did not believe they had a worthy case. In order go get them off his back he passed them off to me. He was surprised the next day to find out that I had told them that I would take their case.
I am not sorry that I took the case, or that I won it. What grieves me is that I found out that if I wanted to move up the ladder of command, I would have to be willing to make moral compromises. I would have to be willing to sacrifice the small fry and battle mightily for the big fish regardless of the merits of the situation. Simply doing your job well was not good enough. Once you reach a certain level, your loyalties were supposed to have formed a reverence for the established order. Balboni was new and had not earned her right to protection by the System.
That is what the Coast Guard requires. It is a small thing compared to the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. In those services you have to be willing to order men to do things that would cause their death. Also, a criminal court judge must be able to sentence a man to the death penalty. If you cannot do those things then you should not aspire to those jobs.
Also, I was swimming against the tide. I was the first Black officer to go where I was going. The inertia of the System would not permit me to advance beyond a certain level in the officer corps. If it had not been this incident, it would have been some other. It appeared that most if not all of the senior white officers understood that it was their duty to stop me. I was occupying a position that a white officer could have filled. I had no right to be there.
Later in New York I was targeted for drug screening. The tests were supposed to be random, but I was ordered to report to give a urine sample everytime the testing lab's doors swung open. It is no small miracle that by the grace of God, I was not tripped up by some other snafu.
Fortunately for me, I was forced to retire young enough that I was able to pursue another career.
Thank you for your comments.

3:54 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Dear Anonymous,
If I had been representing the Agency, I think I could have won this case; or, at least, the case would have had a different outcome.
The testimony of Jeremiah Healy was the key to the disposition of the case. Lcdr Gary Heil did not handle his witness properly. He made the mistake most attorneys make when they notice that the case they are involved with is getting an unusual amount of publicity. Lcdr Heil started to “grandstand”. He tried to look “cute”. He was playing to the gallery. He lost his focus.
Jeremiah Healy was a surprise witness for us. I did not know about him until the last minute. He had been discharged from the Coast Guard, and he lived in South Carolina. So, I did not get a chance to interview him until the day of the hearing. He was flown in at Government expense and he left right after he testified. If I had interviewed him beforehand, I might not have been as confident as I was about the final outcome of the case.
At a crucial point in Healy’s testimony, I got him to admit that he was a liar, a chronic drug abuser, and that he had committed other offenses punishable under the UCMJ while he was on active duty. This was during my cross-examination of him. I was able to use a great deal of latitude on cross-exam.
On Re-direct Exam by Lcdr Heil the issue was how accurate were his powers of recollection for crucial certain events. Our side was bleeding from Healy’s testimony. The tension in the court room was so thick that you could have cut it with a knife. People were crowded inside and standing around the sides of the room. Then Lcdr Heil got “cute” and asked Healy, “Does smoking marijuana affect your memory?” And Healy answered, “No, it just causes babies to be born naked!” And the entire court room erupted in laughter. It was a pressure release for everyone. Even the Judge cracked up at that one.
Lcdr Heil lost the moment and he lost his focus. He was very close to winning the credibility issue. So he lost his focus, and Balboni dodged a bullet.
If I had been representing the Agency, I would have handled it a bit differently. It mostly came down to trial tactics. Jeremiah Healy was the key to the case, and Lcdr Heil lost sight of that fact, if he was ever aware of it.
I think he was aware of it, because he had threatened us with that point before the trial started. He told us that he had found a secret witness in South Carolina who was no longer on active duty. He said that when he put Jerry Healy on the witness stand, that Ensign Christine Balboni would run crying out of the court room in disgrace. Well, it did not happen. Balboni said she was willing to take her chances; and, we did. And the rest is history.

10:23 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Webster Smith wrote:

From my personal interactions with LCDR Steverson,USCG (Ret.) I can tell you that the man is passionate about many of the Coast Guard's idiosyncrasies that have avoided scrutiny over the past decades. He was blackballed after he stood up and successfully defended a female officer, who faced discrimination. In his life, he has done much to raise questions about many issues in the Coast Guard, including my own plight, and I am thankful for that. More notable was his role with the Academy noose situation. Sometimes, people read his postings and say, "there is no way that, that is true." However, he has a record of having his information confirmed by the Coast Guard, its maritime court, its criminal court, or even its public affairs group sometime down the line.
Much like your credible sources, there are people that walk (or walked) the halls of Chase Hall that stood up and said, "this isn't right."

I owe a debt of gratitude to LCDR Steverson, who was one of the first people to believe in me. By chance, I recently found a photograph from 1974 of my father and the 28 black members of the CGA class of 1978 standing with then-LT Steverson at Alexander Hamilton Hall. No one in my family ever imagined how much help he would be in our fight for justice. Thank you LCDR Steverson, USCG (Ret.) for what you do and thank you, Coast Guard Report, for recognizing him and the impact of his blog.
(4/03/08)

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was assigned aboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC 723)when ENS Balboni reported aboard and worked for her as a Radioman. Before this trial occurred on Coast Guard Island, I was transferred from the RUSH to MSO San Francisco Bay, Alameda, CA. At one point I was told that my name had come up in her defense, but was removed, because I could remember sending messages signed by then CAPT Telfer to COMDT telling them that he did not want women assigned aboard USCGC RUSH and that they did not belong there. I don't know why I was removed from the witness list. ENS Balboni was a good COMMO while I was there. I suggested to her that she take the CG Communications Officer course so she could understand how the radio room functioned. To this day I still think that she took the course.

CGCOMM3(Ret)

11:32 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand said on June 4, 20133 in Senate Hearings before the Senate Armed Service Committee that "Discipline" is the heart of the military culture, and "Trust" is it's soul." She also said that most senior male officers "do not know the difference between a slap on the ass and rape". She also said, inter alia, that "Command Climate" that creates a "toxic sexual environment" is a breeding ground for sexual harassment and sexual assault. Not all inappropriate sexual contact is a crime, but it may contribute to creating a toxic environment.

12:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home