Naples sailor pleads guilty to two charges, will face jury on third
NAPLES, Italy — Chief Petty Officer Felix Correa pleaded guilty Monday to two of three charges against him, but has decided to let a jury decide his guilt or innocence on the third — and arguably more serious charge — of indecent acts with a minor.
The Naples-based sailor pleaded guilty to sexual harassment and fraternization, telling the military judge he knew what he did was wrong in separate incidents with separate female sailors that led to the charges.
“As a chief petty officer, sir, it is my duty to uphold regulations … and to be an example,” Correa told the judge, Navy Capt. David White.
A jury of three officers and two senior enlisted personnel will listen to testimony during the scheduled weeklong general court-martial on the allegation that Correa inappropriately touched a 12-year-old girl in spring 2005. The girl was staying at his home while her mother, also a sailor, was in the States for naval schooling, according to testimony that had been presented during an Article 32 investigation in January.
The jury was not told that Correa pleaded guilty to the two charges and won’t find out until the end of the court-martial.
Correa, a 23-year veteran, told the judge he was guilty of sexually harassing a female petty officer third class on two or more occasions between June 2004 and July 2005. He said he was wrong when he commented on her physical appearance.
He also told White that he shared stories of a sexual nature about himself during the workday with the sailor and that his behavior “set the tone for a bad working environment.”
Correa pleaded guilty to fraternizing with a seaman in her barracks room, “teaching her how to drink” and how she could “find her limits” with alcohol consumption, he said.
He befriended the sailor, who at one point fell under him in the chain of command, and “would get her out of doing certain duties.”
On the two charges for which he pleaded guilty, Correa faces a maximum sentence of four years’ confinement, reduction to the lowest paygrade of E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge. He faces an additional seven years if the jury convicts him on the charge of indecent acts with a minor, White said.