Spanking scandal hits Australian navy

2011-11-30 13:30

Sydney - A senior Australian naval officer has pleaded not guilty to charges of spanking a junior female sailor, with a court martial on Wednesday hearing it was a test to see how obedient she was.

Lieutenant Commander John Jones is facing nine counts of indecent acts without consent, five of assaulting a subordinate, nine of prejudicial behaviour, and one count of attempting to destroy defence force property.

The charges relate to incidents which allegedly occurred between February 1 and November 10 2010 while he was serving on a supply ship.

‘Bare buttocks smacked’

Jones pleaded not guilty to all of the charges apart from the accusation of attempting to destroy defence force property which he admitted.

According to documents tendered to the court, two of the incidents involved the young female sailor allegedly lying across Jones' lap and him smacking her bare buttocks.

The prosecution claims the woman never gave consent and the incidents amount to criminal behaviour.

Prosecutor Flight Lieutenant Steven Whybrow told the court martial that Jones admitted to some of the behaviour he is accused of but does not concede it was non-consensual or that it amounted to an indecent act.

In his opening address, Whybrow said Jones had taken the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, "under his wing", Australian Associated Press reported.

"That turned sinister around February 2010," he told the court, in reference to the date of the start of the alleged offences.

Reputation of sexism, drunkenness

The court martial was to hear a secret recording the sailor made in November 2010, in which Whybrow said Jones told the woman he was trying to instruct her in discipline.

"It was more of a test to see how disciplined and compliant you were going to be," he said on the tape, AAP reported.

The trial continues.

Australia's military has gained an unwanted reputation for having a drinking and sexist culture, underscored in a recent 400-page report about incidents on the supply ship HMAS Success in 2009.

- SAPA

Read more on:    australia  |  gender rights
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