The Marine Corps Times
Posted : Monday Aug 20, 2012 7:13:36 EDT
By Gidget Fuentes – Staff writer
A San Diego judge has granted a temporary restraining order to an enlisted sailor who alleges a Navy chaplain tried to rape him.
The sailor, whose identity Marine Corps Times is withholding because he is an alleged victim, is expected to be a key witness in the government’s case against Lt. Cmdr. Steven E. Hicks, a Catholic priest at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Hicks was removed from his assignment earlier this year amid an investigation into alleged misconduct, including claims of sexual harassment, indecent conduct, assault and fraternization, a combat center spokesman said June 22.
Hicks has been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but Marine officials at Twentynine Palms have refused requests for a copy of his charge sheet, which details the allegations against him.
Marine Corps Times has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Hicks.
An Article 32 hearing was scheduled for July 24 at the desert training base, but Hicks waived his right to the preliminary hearing. Under Article 32 of the UCMJ, an investigating officer must make a recommendation as to whether the evidence against a defendant is sufficient to proceed to a court-martial, or whether the charges should be reduced or dropped.
The combat center’s commander, Brig. Gen. George W. Smith Jr., will ultimately decide whether Hicks’ case goes to court-martial.
In seeking the restraining order Aug. 6, the sailor told Superior Court Judge Jay M. Bloom that several years ago Hicks “tried to rape me, and I didn’t report it.” He said he volunteered to talk with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, but “somehow [Hicks] found out I was talking to NCIS, and he came to my work.”
The sailor testified that he has received threats via phone and email, most recently in the weeks leading up to the Article 32 hearing. Hicks, he said, “didn’t want me to show up [at the hearing], so he threatened me and my wife.”
The judge’s order prohibits Hicks from contacting the sailor or coming within 100 yards of the sailor and his family. It will remain in effect until another hearing later this month.
Neither Hicks nor his attorney showed up at the hearing, but it wasn’t clear to the court whether he had been issued an order to appear.
Hicks, who became an Air Force chaplain in 1993, transferred to the Navy in 1995, according to Navy records. His most recent assignment was in Souda Bay, Greece. Previously, he served with 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, Calif.; in Kodiak, Alaska; and at Naval Support Activity New Orleans before joining the amphibious assault ship Peleliu in San Diego in 2003.