Navy commander accused of bum grab after drunken function

A senior Navy officer is alleged to have grabbed a subordinate's bottom multiple times after a function on-board the ...
FAIRFAX NZ

A senior Navy officer is alleged to have grabbed a subordinate's bottom multiple times after a function on-board the HMNZS Canterbury.

A female navy officer has faced intense questioning about claims her bottom was fondled by a commander.

The accused has interim name suppression and is charged with indecent assault following claims he grabbed the woman's buttocks at least four times at a naval bar.

At a court martial at Devonport Naval Base on Monday the complainant, a lieutenant, said a group of officers attended a dinner on board the HMNZS Canterbury on May 17, 2012.

Following the dinner a group of about 15-20 officers left the Canterbury and went to the bar at the officer's quarters on the Devonport Naval Base.

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The woman told the court she felt "preyed upon" by the commander, who grabbed her buttocks on at least four separate occasions.

The first grab happened when the complainant was standing in a group of about five people chatting.

A person whom the woman identified as the commander walked behind her and groped her buttocks hard.

"It was quite an intense grab on my bottom and I turned around and said 'Hey!'. I was a bit shocked I guess."

She turned around and saw the commander, who was "having a bit of a laugh".

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The woman said she moved to a different group to try and evade the commander but he grabbed her again lightly another two or three times.

The final time the woman again turned around to confront the commander.

"The final one I turned around and said 'f*** off'...and he sort of laughed into his glass."

Facing cross-examination from defence lawyer Major Peter Brock, the woman became angry and emotional after being repeatedly questioned about the finer details of the night.

The woman was asked the difference between a slap and a grab on the bottom and what exactly she had said to the commander during the final grope.

"I think if someone grabbed your balls over and over repeatedly I think you'd be pretty angry as well."

Despite this she believed the groping was not malicious but deemed funny by the commander.

The events had been humiliating and reinforced the fact woman were the minority in the defence force and were "different", she said.

"[It was] humiliation that someone from my branch, well I know exactly who it was, had done that to me...I just sort of felt violated to be honest."

Brock said the commander denied any grabbing or groping and if it did happen, the woman must have identified the wrong person while drunk.

"I put it to you that [the accused] was not the person who touched you and you haven't joined up the dots correctly."

He queried the lieutenant's recollection of events from several years ago and questioned her regarding the amount of alcohol she had consumed.

The court martial continues this week.

 - Stuff

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