Navy official Charles Berry was removed from his post aboard the U.S.S. Florida because he failed to take action against gay hazing, according to a recently-released military report.
Before being reassigned in the spring, Berry served as Master Chief Machinist's Mate and Chief of Boat aboard the Navy nuclear submarine. Berry was removed from the ship because he failed to take action against the hazing of a sailor, who was harassed after he reported an attempted rape. The sailor reported that a man held him at knifepoint at the port of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Other sailors on the U.S.S. Florida discovered the incident and hounded the sailor viciously, hurling gay slurs and jokes at him.
"Among other things, he was called a derogatory term for a gay person and referred to as 'Brokeback,'" the Associated Press reports, "a reference to the gay-themed movie Brokeback Mountain. In addition, someone posted a drawing of a stick figure being sexually assaulted." The aggrieved sailor also endured taunting when sailors underwent training for the end of "don't ask, don't tell."
According to the report, the U.S.S. Florida has a culture of antigay harassment and hazing. Berry, who wasn't accused of hazing but simply not doing anything about it, was reassigned, while the accused sailors were reprimanded, and counseling and training was ordered for all on the ship.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis released the following statement:
"At SLDN, we are disappointed by what happened aboard the USS Florida, but it appears that this command took swift and appropriate action once the incidents were disclosed . This unfortunate and unprofessional conduct underscores that we must continue to be vigilant as implementation continues, by and large, without major challenges."