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This Restaurant Allegedly Harassed a Yelper for Years After He Refused to Take Down a Negative Review

This Restaurant Allegedly Harassed a Yelper for Years After He Refused to Take Down a Negative Review


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This Yelper left a bad review in 2013, and the new restaurant owners would not let it go

Yelp Screenshot

Yelp reviews can be both a boon and a burden for neighborhood restaurants.

It can be difficult for businesses, especially restaurants with limited digital marketing skills, to handle bad online reviews. One restaurant in Cleveland social-media stalked and ranted at a bad reviewer, and a hotel in Hudson, New York, supposedly charges guests extra if they leave bad Yelp reviews.Adding to the pile of “how not to handle Yelp criticism” is this years-long argument between a Yelp reviewer and his local tavern, who really, really wanted him to take down a negative Yelp review.

This story, picked up by Consumerist, has not been confirmed, so proceed with caution. Yelp reviewer Mark S. left a negative review of a local tavern in 2013. One year later, he was contacted by the new owners of the tavern, saying, “Hey Mark my name is Joe I own [redacted] I just bought it in April 2014 trying to clean up my yelp any chance you could take your post down.”

Mark did not respond or delete his review, but one year later the new owner contacted him again — and again. His subsequent communications became angrier and angrier, ending with “I just didn’t want to be held hostage by Yelp and have to pay to have your review taken down not to mention I was just bored that day like I am now. There are some very legitimate bad reviews about the [redacted] unfortunately yours is a fake.”

Owner “Joseph S.” also claims he was contacted by Yelp to pay for a negative review cleanup, a practice which Yelp has thoroughly denied in court. Mark S. has not responded to the latest Yelp messages.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Wide Range of Victims in Wake of Tailhook Scandal : Navy: Women feel the sting of backlash, men feel their rights have been violated in the probe for the guilty.

The final chapter of the Tailhook sexual assault scandal has yet to be written, but already the episode and the continuing search for those responsible have claimed a heavy toll on the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the year since the 1991 aviators convention from which the scandal draws its name, the pain has spread far beyond the 26 or so women--more than half of them officers--who allegedly were groped and grabbed as they were pushed along a gantlet of drunken aviators in the hallway of a Las Vegas hotel.

Several careers have been cut short, others will limp forward under a cloud of suspicion, and a mood of profound disgruntlement has settled over the services’ besieged flying community. From seaman apprentice to admiral, men quake at the mere thought of a sexual harassment charge in this new era of “zero tolerance.”

Hissed charges of “witch hunt!” can be heard, while more earnest allegations suggest that Pentagon investigators have flouted procedures designed to protect suspects in military criminal investigations.

Navy women, too, say that for them, the atmosphere has worsened. Feeling the sting of backlash, they say they sense more distance than ever from male colleagues. The sullenness and fear of some Navy men has cast a chill over once-collegial relationships and made many Navy women feel that they--not the perpetrators of the Tailhook assaults--are being blamed for disgracing the service and ruining careers.

“It’s a little bit like sexual harassment,” said a female naval officer. “Basically, (it tells you that) you’re still the outsider.”

“After awhile,” said Lt. Paula Coughlin, the female aviator who first came forward with details of the alleged Tailhook assaults, “you think, ‘What’s my job here? To endure, or to come to work and do my job? I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

As the Defense Department’s criminal investigation nears completion, many officers past and present contend that the newest group of Tailhook victims are casualties of the investigative process that has followed the revelations of misconduct in Las Vegas.

After the Navy’s initial investigation was deemed insufficient, the case was turned over to the Defense Department’s inspector general, who already has issued a report criticizing the Navy’s response and recommending disciplinary action against some high-ranking officials, several of whom have resigned or been reassigned.

The parallel criminal investigation will determine whether charges should be brought against any of the men involved.

In the Defense Department’s search for miscreants and the Navy’s zeal to reform itself, constitutional rights have been trammeled, according to many knowledgeable Navy sources. Dozens of aviators charge that investigators have violated service rules and forced them to take lie detector tests in an effort to track down the guilty.

The Navy’s determination to stamp out harassment also has males wary that, faced with any accusation of harassment, they will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, there are cases of alleged sexual harassment where the senior officers of the accused--eager to protect their careers and show that “they get it"--have quickly referred their subordinates to courts martial rather than try to resolve a case between the individuals involved.

But the work of inspector general Derek Vander Schaaf and his office was defended two weeks ago by Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams, who said investigators “have to do their numbers and we assume they’re doing a good job. . . . I don’t know of allegations of people going too far (in the conduct of the probe). If Vander Schaaf heard about them, he’d be concerned too.”

Williams added that “the guilty have to be punished but the people who go out and do for their country everyday need to know that they’re going to be supported and protected.” But he cautioned: “This is a balancing act.”

One naval aviator, who refused to be named, said that although he witnessed no sexual assaults during the Tailhook convention, he has spent more time being interrogated by Defense Department investigators than the six hours he spent at the convention itself.

He maintained that during those sessions, investigators lied to him about evidence they had, physically menaced him, wheedled admissions out of him unrelated to the convention and threatened to bring him up on charges unless he volunteered information on the misconduct of colleagues.

And then there are the admirals who claim they, too, are victims of the post-Tailhook mood. James H. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, called them the junior admirals who were “taken out back and shot” while more senior service leaders avoided public comment.

Rear Adm. John Snyder counts himself among them. He is one of five admirals who so far have resigned or been reassigned as a result of the scandal.

Commanding officer at the Patuxent Naval Air Station where Coughlin was stationed, he was relieved of his duties after Coughlin charged that he failed to take seriously her allegations of assaults. Complaining that the facts about the Tailhook scandal have “moved into the realm of half-truths and lies,” he added with resignation that there can be no appeal in this year of blame: “We’re living in an election year, with a Congress that’s had some problems in dealing with its image . . . and they surely would like the spotlight to be elsewhere.”

Eugene Fidell, a Washington attorney with broad experience in military justice matters, said “right-thinking advocates of improved opportunity for women in the service and of restructuring value systems . . . will agree those goals should not be purchased at the expense of fair play for individual service personnel.”

In the course of dozens of interviews, male and female officers have offered a wide range of explanations for the post-Tailhook mood.

To some, the Navy’s failure to deal sooner with sexual discrimination allowed a crisis to fester, perhaps drawing an overzealous reaction by service leaders.

“Because we delayed dealing with the assaults at Tailhook, good men’s careers are being ruined,” wrote Cmdr. G. Thomas Mariner in a recent issue of the Tailhook Assn.'s magazine, The Hook.

Others blame the Navy’s senior admirals for acting foremost in the interest of preserving their own careers by sacrificing lower-ranking officers, and still others fault women who they say are using the episode to press harder for the right to join their Navy and Marine Corps brethren in combat slots.

Webb, the former secretary of the Navy, blames both overzealous civilians and cowardly admirals. The resulting “witch hunt,” he wrote recently in the New York Times, “threatens to swamp the entire naval service.”

Whatever the reason, the atmosphere in the Navy has changed for the worse for both men and women, said virtually every service member interviewed.

Most who say they are victims of the Tailhook aftermath wish to remain unidentified. Women fear further reprisals from men, while men fear being branded as uncooperative and politically incorrect.

The officer who attended the Tailhook convention but saw no instances of sexual assault said he and his West Coast unit were explicitly told by a service attorney at a meeting in late July that they would be branded “uncooperative"--with disastrous consequences to their careers--if they showed any hesitancy to submit to a lie-detector test or asked to have an attorney present at questioning. These instructions--confirmed by several other aviators present at the meeting--were issued despite prohibitions against forcing military personnel to take lie detector tests or to be interviewed in a criminal case without an attorney.

“Rights don’t count anymore--that’s the whole atmosphere,” the officer said.

When he was chosen to lead his subordinates through a consciousness-raising session on sexual harassment, he bluntly counseled them on how to deal with Navy and Marine Corps women.

“You don’t want to have any non-necessary conversation with them,” he told male personnel. “Those conversations (with service women) that are not a part of your job are just running an unnecessary risk. And if I were the last guy in the office, I’d send any women home too. My aim is to protect myself. It benefits everybody.”

That, said Coughlin, has become a prevalent response to the Tailhook scandal and its aftermath among men. She said it is no more tolerable than explicit harassment.

“The guy who’s afraid to talk to women in the work center, he is hurting the organization as badly as the guy who harasses women,” said Coughlin.

She said that since going public with her account of sexual assault, the anger and suspicion of Navy men has come through loud and clear: “It’s definitely taken its toll on me, made me very cynical, jaded. . . . It really has given new meaning to revictimization.

“I don’t regret at all (the decision to go public with the allegations),” she said. “If it had happened all over again, I would do the same thing, probably sooner. But it has taken its toll. It’s just been an extremely stressful time.”

In the process, Coughlin said she has come to appreciate the subtler toll that sexual harassment exacts from its victims. “You say to yourself, ‘I did the right thing, I’m a good person.’ But I’ve run into attitudes, people who don’t acknowledge me in a room. And it beats you down. . . . I’ve developed a huge appreciation for women who work in an environment that’s just not conducive to doing their job.”

Suddenly, colleagues have become adversaries. Many men have reacted by holding women at yard-arm’s length.

“There’s a sense of ‘see what you women have done?’ ” one female officer said. “They’re still blaming the victim, and they’re not saying that for 15-20 years, we’ve been going through this and now they have to.”

Rear Adm. John E. Gordon, dismissed as the Navy’s judge advocate general in the wake of an early report by the Defense Department inspector general, also says he is a victim of the process that began with Tailhook.

According to Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe, Gordon’s resignation was “encouraged” after the inspector general charged that Gordon failed to adequately review the reports of the Naval Investigative Service and the Naval inspector general before they were hurriedly released by the Navy in late April. Criticism of those reports later prompted then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to request a separate investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Gordon told The Times he was out of the country at the time the reports were completed and released. Moreover, he maintained he had submitted his retirement papers well before O’Keefe announced his departure in connection with the Tailhook case. He called the Defense Department’s investigation “flawed and factually incorrect.”

Another retired admiral says it is not uncommon to sacrifice senior officers in a scandal.

“Military people are convenient as scapegoats: We don’t have any political clout, we can’t file suits when we’re dismissed or relieved of command. We’re kind of convenient as fall guys,” he said.

The anguish that both men and women feel in the wake of the Tailhook scandal has a common root, according to Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner, one of the Navy’s most experienced female aviators and a lifetime member of the Tailhook Assn.

“People are making broad generalizations about their ability and character that have nothing to do with them as individuals,” Mariner wrote in an article adjoining her husband’s in the Fall 1992 issue of The Hook, referring to male naval aviators in the wake of the scandal. “They are in the demeaning position of constantly having to prove a negative--that they aren’t whatever stereotype that some people portray them. It is frustrating, infuriating. Like their female counterparts, male naval aviators are being discriminated against.”

Coughlin says it may be a generation before the atmosphere changes. “There’s going to be a lot of tension at first, maybe even for a long time,” she said. “After all, there’s still racial tension in the Navy. It’s going to be difficult for women, and it’s going to be up to the woman . . . to forge ahead.”

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

Three people were killed along Compton Creek in the last year. Their killer, authorities say, was a man who lived in a homeless encampment along the creek.

Police and elected officials worry the pandemonium that occurred in the city highlights the power of social media, which can disseminate information far and wide, causing events to get out of hand.

A kids’ dance event, “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Discovery Cube reopening, Zombie Joe’s, L.A. Dance Project and more. Here’s our short list.

We discuss the seventh and final episode of HBO’s crime drama, including Julianne Nicholson’s knockout performance and the chances for a Season 2.

These trips will take you to priceless places, and our pro tips will help you dig deeper.


Watch the video: TF2 - Negative Reviews