A female ensign accused her subordinate, a decorated Chief Petty Officer named John Gonzales, of sexual assault. In a general court martial, the ensign told the jury she had no direct recollection of what happened in May 2010 after she, Gonzales and a group of sailors from the amphibious assault ship Bataan left a bar and went to Gonzales’ apartment.
Jurors took less than an hour to find Gonzales not guilty of aggravated sexual assault. Instead, they found him guilty of fraternization, a conviction that prevented him not only from re-enlisting in the navy but also from getting even a civilian job.
Gonzales' attorney said that the woman concocted the rape charge to cover up for her own admitted fraternization.
While Gonzales' life is in tatters, what was the woman's punishment? She received a non-punitive letter of caution and was later promoted.
Gonzales has 16 years of experience as an intelligence analyst, including two combat deployments supporting Navy SEALs. He earned a Bronze Star and received the Navy’s top award for leadership in the intelligence community.
Gonzales' punishment is not necessarily unjust, but the the double-standard that punishes one party but not another for fraternization, is. Worse, a sexual assault accusation is used as both a shield to protect the accuser from punishment, and a sword to perpetrate an unjust double-standard.