YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – The top enlisted sailor aboard the USS Germantown has been temporarily relieved in the wake of allegations of sexual assault made by a crewmember, Navy officials said Tuesday.
Command Master Chief Petty Officer Jesus Galura has been reassigned to Amphibious Squadron 11 headquarters at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, while officials conduct an investigation.
After “careful consideration,” squadron commodore Capt. Heidi Agle decided that an ongoing investigation would impact Galura’s ability to do his job “and would be an unnecessary distraction to the command mission,” according to a command statement.
Navy officials did not provide further details on the accusation, citing the ongoing investigation.
Galura has served as Germantown’s command master chief since August 2011.
Galura joined the Navy in 1989 at Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippines. He has also served aboard the USS Essex and USS San Bernardino during previous tours in Sasebo.
Command Master Chief Jeffrey Steinly has transferred from U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters to assume Galura’s duties aboard the ship.
Galura’s dismissal comes less than six months after a USS Germantown chief petty officer was convicted by a court-martial jury of sexually assaulting a sailor he once mentored.
Sexual assault in the military has drawn increasing scrutiny from Congress and the public during the past year, leading the services to re-examine how it addresses the crime.
In early November, the Pentagon announced a 46-percent rise in sexual assault reports between October 2012 and June 2013, compared with a year earlier.
Officials said the added reports reflect progress, since Defense Department and several civilian studies indicate that sexual assault is vastly underreported.
Although there were 3,374 accusations of sexual assault in 2012, a DOD survey determined through statistical extrapolation that there could be as many as 26,000 sexual assaults per year.
The Navy now issues weekly sexual assault reports on its Navy.mil website.
The service has also formed a new legal team to represent accusers of sexual assault. Supporters of the new Navy legal team say it provides victims with support beyond that of the prosecution, which tries cases on behalf of the government; however, some legal analysts and defense attorneys argue that the additional counsel puts the accused at a disadvantage.