Article 32 begins for chaplain accused of adultery, cyberstalking
May 25, 2007
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — The Army chaplain disciplined for adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer last November made three attempts to resign but was denied when allegations of Internet stalking surfaced, according to testimony in his Article 32 hearing Wednesday.
Capt. Mike Myers, 45, has been charged with five counts of cyberstalking and one specification each of adultery and unbecoming conduct stemming from his alleged relationship with an Arizona woman.
An Article 32 is similar to a grand jury proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Maj. RaDonna Johnson of the 78th Signal Battalion, the Article 32 investigating officer, will determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a court-martial. A decision is expected within two weeks.
Myers essentially was placed under 30 days of “house arrest” after receiving an Article 15 in November for adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer, Capt. Lynn Williams, his military defense lawyer, said Wednesday.
An Article 15 is nonjudicial punishment, and under the UCMJ the military has the right to pursue those charges in a court-martial.
Various chaplains and other Army officials have recommended resignation for Myers instead of a court-martial, she added.
Myers, a 16-year Army veteran, declined to make a statement. His family was not present in the courtroom.
“His chaplain career is over. His military career is over,” Williams said. “He’s been punished enough. … He just wants to get home to his family.”
Capt. Matthew Henderson, one of two military prosecutors, pointed to “voluminous amounts of material” in arguing for a trial.
“(Resignation) has no bearing on what you need to find in this case … in the interest of justice and good discipline,” he told Johnson.
The Army intended to accept the resignation and allow Myers to leave Japan until learning about the cyberstalking accusations, a Camp Zama spokesman said after Wednesday’s hearing.
“The easy choice would’ve been to let him resign and leave for the good of the service,” said Maj. Jim Crawford, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman. “But that would not be for the good of the service. The right thing to do is prosecute.
“This was an individual who was a moral role model and authority figure in the U.S. Army. Based on the investigation and evidence, we’d be negligent if we didn’t prosecute him,” Crawford said. “The command here does not tolerate this kind of behavior. To let this go by would undermine the integrity of the officer and chaplain corps.”
Myers remains assigned to Camp Zama’s 441st Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade but has been removed from chaplain duties. Since last fall, he’s worked in an administrative role and had no contact with soldiers.
Wednesday’s hearing featured speakerphone testimony from Joanne Ruffner, 34, of Huachuca City, Ariz., who claims she was romantically involved with Myers and even made wedding plans until discovering he actually was a married chaplain with two teenage children. The two met on a hiking trip in May 2004 when Myers was stationed at Fort Huachuca, she said.
Their platonic relationship, mostly carried out in e-mails and online chats, turned serious last June after he’d taken a new assignment at Camp Zama in August 2005 and then deployed to Camp Slayer, Iraq, soon after, Ruffner testified.
In sometimes graphic detail, she described the three nights she and Myers spent together in a Kansas motel room during his leave last August. But things quickly changed when he left Iraq for Japan the following month, she said.
“He got distant,” she said. “His e-mail said he was dealing with post-traumatic stress. … He wasn’t available on chat or e-mail as much. When he was, he was just real short with his answers.”
After learning Myers was married and a chaplain, Ruffner said she contacted U.S. Army Japan command chaplain Col. Allan Boatright to verify the information.
Ruffner testified she “didn’t want to get (Myers) in trouble” but soon began turning over e-mails, records and photographs to investigators.
On Oct. 26, she said, she received an e-mail from someone named “David Chalmers.”
“The contents were a threat saying I’d see compromising photos of me on the Internet,” Ruffner testified.
A short time later, she said she discovered several photos and profiles containing her information posted on adult-oriented Web sites — some requiring payment for access. Nude photos also were sent to colleagues and executives at the Realtor association she works for in Arizona, she testified.
Ruffner found a Web site allowing searches for IP addresses, she said. They were traced back to Japan. She then notified the FBI.
“They were (photos) I’d sent him,” she testified. “He was the only one who’d have compromising photos of me and any reason to threaten me.”
The FBI conducted an investigation. However, the Army requested that it be allowed to prosecute the case and federal prosecutors agreed.
During cross-examination by Capt. Mark Kerr from the defense team, Ruffner was asked why she’d file a complaint with the Fort Huachuca inspector general if she didn’t want to see Myers punished.
“Because this person is in a position where they shouldn’t be lying,” she responded. “I really wasn’t looking for anything other than to get everything resolved. I don’t want him in the chaplain corps counseling others where he has a high impact on their lives and can do more damage.”
If convicted of all charges, Myers faces up to 27 years in prison, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and dismissal from the Army, Crawford said.