Marine lieutenant dismissed for lewd acts
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine lieutenant was dismissed from the Corps and sentenced to 30 days’ confinement Thursday for participating in lewd conduct with enlisted Marines as a member of a local running club.
First Lt. Nathan Daniels, 29, of the 3rd Forces Service Support Group, pleaded guilty to Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.”
Daniels pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a pretrial agreement, admitting that between April and September of last year he took part in nude runs and skinny-dipping at public beaches on Okinawa with enlisted Marines.
He also admitted to fraternizing with them at wild parties where alcohol was consumed, where he took part in a mock sex act with an enlisted Marine while other Marines were present, and to having sex with a married staff sergeant who was not his wife.
All of the incidents occurred as part of the activities of the Okinawa Hash House Harriers, an organization that advertises itself on its Web site (http://members.tripod.com/okinawahash__10/) as “the drinking club with a running problem.”
According to evidence submitted at the daylong hearing, Daniels, a former enlisted Marine and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a member of the club, which consisted of enlisted personnel, officers and American and Japanese civilians.
The club conducts several 3- to 5-mile runs a month at various locations on Okinawa, in which alcohol is served at the traditional water stops and a ceremony involving heavy drinking is part of the ritual at the end of the runs, according to testimony presented during the hearing.
One of the club’s customs is to give members “Hash nicknames” after their sixth run, according to evidence presented at the hearing. The names are given by the group and usually involve something sexually explicit.
A 24-year-old staff sergeant testified that after her sixth run she was given a lewd nickname after voluntarily displaying her favorite sexual position with Daniels in a mock sex act.
She also testified that Daniels knew she and another Marine were senior noncommissioned officers when he participated with them in nude swimming and midnight “UGHs,” or Underground Hashes.
Daniels admitted that he participated in several UGHs, including one at a public beach near the Joint Services Okuma Recreation Center in northern Okinawa during the July 4 weekend.
The staff sergeant said she and her husband considered Daniels a friend. But that changed when she was deployed to Pohang, South Korea, for an exercise last August. She said Daniels was deployed at the same time and they often had lunch and went to bars in town after hours.
After one night of heavy drinking, she testified, he took her on a walk on the camp to show her the route he had planned for a Hash run the next day. They decided to stop and rest in the rear of a flatbed truck, she said.
“I was drunk and I was tired and I was lying back and finally fell asleep,” she said. The next thing she said she remembered was waking up with Daniels lying on top of her.
During questioning about the facts in the case, Daniels said the woman had made advances to him and consented to have intercourse. He admitted it still was a wrong thing to do.
The staff sergeant said she told several people, including her husband, about the Pohang incident, but did not report it to military police or her command because she was concerned about what affect it would have on her career and marriage.
During a recess in Thursday’s court proceedings, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent said an investigation into Daniels’ actions began in October when the incident finally was reported to officials.
Several times during his questioning of the Marine lieutenant, the judge, Lt. Col. D.J. Daugherty, asked him why he participated in the lewd behavior and committed adultery with the Marine staff sergeant.
“It was to do something crazy,” Daniels said of the nude runs. “It was a lack of judgment. It just seemed something fun to do. I wasn’t thinking of the big picture.”
Daniels blamed the incident in South Korea on “a breakdown of judgment and intoxication. I simply made a poor decision.”
In a closing statement, Daniels said he had believed that the running club “was not different than other sporting clubs” and he saw no harm in fraternizing with enlisted personnel during the club’s activities.
However, he said, “there were things that I could have controlled and prevented.” He said he believes his credibility as an officer has been destroyed. Daniels said some fellow Marines since have dubbed him “Date Rape Daniels.”
“I am no longer capable of effectively interacting with my peers,” he said.
The prosecutor, Capt. Keith Parrella, asked for a sentence of dismissal and confinement for six months. He noted that Daniels still is affiliated with the Okinawa Hash House Harriers and that his actions, many of them in public, could have led to “an international incident.”
Defense attorney Capt. Jennifer Spooner argued Daniels already was branded as a convicted felon and faced having to repay part of his tuition to the Naval Academy for failing to serve out five years after graduation. She asked for a sentence of 30 days confinement and a fine.
Daugherty’s decision was for dismissal from the service and 18 months in prison. However, the terms of the plea agreement restricted the confinement to 30 days, with the rest of the judge’s sentence plus 12 months suspended.
After the trial, Parrella said Daniels would spend his 30 days confinement in the Joint Forces Brig on Camp Hansen.