Ensign Steve Crowston, a junior Navy officer, didn’t appreciate being nicknamed “gay boy” and “fagmeister” by comrades and senior officers, so he filed a harassment complaint last February — and saw his case dismissed in May. Bullshit, thought Crowston, who filed an appeal two months later, and added to his complaint that he was since subject to retaliation over his initial complaint. Things just came down in his favor. Finally.
An investigation by the Navy’s Inspector General found Crowston was subjected to unfair retaliation at the hands of Cmdr. Liam Bruen, who filed a performance review of Crowston noting it was “the worst performance appraisal” he’d ever given in his 16 years. But what do you expect after Crowston calls you and other officers out for the harassment you handed out in 2009, like giving him the call sign “Romo’s Bitch” (a nod to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo), which was chosen over “Cowboy,” “Gay Boy,” “Fagmeister,” “Cowgirl,” “TO,” “Terrell Owens” and “Redskins.”
Based on the Inspector General’s findings, the case is now handed off to Bruen’s commander, who will ultimately decide what, if any, punishment is deserved. But as one Navy veteran tells it, Bruen’s future is all but sealed.
Former Judge Advocate General Jeff Addicott says Bruen’s commander will have little choice but to take strong action. “If you get a letter from the inspector general that rules against you, it’s all over. Your superior has no choice even if you’re his best buddy in the world because if you don’t take action then they’ll open up an inquiry on you and why you didn’t take action,” said Addicott, currently director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas.
Addicott says even in a best-case scenario, Bruen’s military career is almost certainly over, even if he doesn’t face formal criminal charges. “Non-judicial punishment may be offered to him. If Cmdr. Bruen turns this process down he will face a courts-martial,” Addicott said. “If he accepts the non-judicial punishment he cannot be reduced in rank but can be fined and a formal letter of reprimand issued … when you accept one of those, it goes on your record. He’ll never get promoted and they’ll force him to retire.”
Nice not knowing ya.