A New Zealand Army lieutenant colonel was demoted to major and severely reprimanded today for indecently assaulting a female officer on a training course in which he was chief instructor.
Allan David Kinsella, 37, whose name suppression was lifted today, was found guilty of the charge yesterday at Trentham Army Camp.
He had been found not guilty of a second charge of behaving in a disgraceful and indecent manner, brought under the Armed Forces Discipline Act.
That charge related to an allegation he had been masturbating in the woman's room.
The tribunal that heard the charges today ordered Kinsella's rank and seniority be reduced retrospectively from February 26, 2004 , essentially wiping his credit for five years' service.
Major, one rank below lieutenant colonel, paid about $90,000 per annum compared to the about $120,000 he was previously on.
At the court martial this week, the woman, who has name suppression, said they had been drinking together at an officers' mess on March 23, 2007.
Kinsella had later gone to her room uninvited and tried to force himself on her, she said.
After she resisted his advances, he became distraught and sobbed with his head in his hands, she said.
She got up to open a window and when she turned back to face him Kinsella had removed his trousers and was masturbating, she said.
Kinsella's counsel Tom Gilbert yesterday argued it would have been impossible for his client to go from sobbing to taking off his pants and becoming aroused within seconds.
He said the officer, who was married at the time, had admitted the two kissed and that he had made a mistake in going to her room, but said what took place was consensual and when the woman said no he had stopped.
Mr Gilbert said the woman had motive to make up a story as her fiance, a close friend of the accused, was likely to hear of her infidelity.
Prosecutor Colonel Craig Ruane today suggested an appropriate sentence was either dismissal or a reduction of rank.
Kinsella had denied the offending and this should have an impact on his claims of mitigation, he said.
It was necessary to send a message that such behaviour by a senior officer, especially towards someone he was involved with as an instructor, was unacceptable, Col Ruane said.
He opposed name suppression on the grounds that there were relatively few colonels in the army and to withhold the name could bring suspicion on others.
In Kinsella's defence the court martial was given a number of character references, including several Mr Gilbert attributed to high-ranked defence force officials.
Kinsella's wife, who had agreed to stand by her husband, read a statement describing how the past months had been "brutal" and asked for a merciful sentence.
Mr Gilbert said Kinsella had acknowledged his actions were "morally and ethically wrong" and at the time of offending he had been under stress at work and in his marriage.
He said the army "should be very slow" in considering the dismissal of a man with Kinsella's nearly two decades of service and experience.
"His country and his military owes it to him not to throw him on to the trash heap," Mr Gilbert said.