A high-ranking Naval officer has been sacked after being found guilty of sexual misconduct at a house party.
He had pleaded not guilty to each offence.
A military trial subsequently took place at Garden Island in early March, reports The Daily Telegraph.
High-ranking Naval officer sacked for sexual misconduct
A defence force magistrate found Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Seaman guilty of two counts of acts of indecency.
The court also found him guilty of prejudicial conduct.
The Australian Defence Force published a written judgment outlining Seaman’s offending:
“It was found proved beyond reasonable doubt that at a social event attended by various members, the offender while hugging a more junior sailor touched her indecently, then made comments about her physical appearance and sexuality.
“(He) then subsequently walked up behind where she was sitting (and) touched her indecently again.”
For each of the prejudicial conduct charges, the magistrate issued Seaman with a “severe reprimand”.
However, for both of the acts of indecency, the magistrate dismissed Seaman from the Royal Australian Navy.
As a chief petty officer, Seaman had held the highest non-commissioned rank in the RAN and previously had a spotless record.
A Defence Force Media spokesman confirmed Seaman had previously appeared at a defence force court hearing in January 2023.
That hearing related to separate allegations that Seaman had indecently touched a junior colleague, which he also denied.
The court found Seaman not guilty of crawling into a bed with a junior officer and touching her breast.
The Defence Force spokesman said it takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour seriously.
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Workplace laws do not apply to ADF
Sexual harassment lawyer Stephen Dryley-Collins said legislation that protects most Australian employees do not apply to ADF members.
“For example, the Fair Work Act does not apply to members of the ADF. Laws that protect workers from discrimination and sexual harassment also don’t apply,” he said.
“That’s because ADF members are not technically ’employees’ and therefore, there is no employee to employer relationship.
“As a result, filing a legal challenge outside the Chain of Command is virtually impossible.”
Mr Dryley-Collins pointed to a 2015 adverse action case in the Federal Court (C v Commonwealth of Australia 2015).
It found “the relationship between the Crown and a member of the Defence force has not been and is not founded on contract and is not that of employer or employee”.
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