Sailor gets restriction, demotion at Naples court-martial
NAPLES, Italy — A military jury stripped a sailor of his chief’s anchors Thursday, reducing Chief Petty Officer Felix Correa to the paygrade of E-5 at the end of a four-day general court-martial.
The panel of three officers and two senior enlisted personnel also sentenced Correa, who Monday pleaded guilty to sexual harassment and fraternization, to 60 days restriction, and ordered a letter of reprimand be placed in his service record.
The sentence was slightly more than what the prosecution had asked for — which differed by 15 days of restriction — but far less than the maximum penalty the 23-year veteran could have received. That penalty would have been four years’ confinement, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge.
The drop in paygrade means the Correa family, which includes two college-bound children, will live off of $2,526.60 a month instead of the $3,732.60 Correa earns as a chief.
“The Correa family is certainly appreciative of the considered decision of the court,” the sailor’s civilian defense attorney, David Sheldon, said afterward. “Obviously, this sends a message that sexual harassment and fraternization is not appropriate and will not be tolerated.”
Wednesday, the jury acquitted Correa on a charge of indecent acts with a minor. During the first days of the court-martial, the panel was not informed that Correa already had pleaded guilty to the sexual harassment and fraternization charges.
Ordinarily within the military, crimes such as fraternization and sexual harassment would be dealt with by the chain-of-command in a nonjudicial punishment process. However, because of the third charge, the case was brought to a court-martial.
Correa delivered a tearful unsworn statement to the jury before it began its roughly two-hour sentencing deliberation. First he apologized for his actions, and then he pleaded with the members not to punish his family for his crimes.
“I do realize my conduct is and was unacceptable, and I’m sorry,” the 42-year-old sailor said, drawing tears from his wife and daughter in the courtroom. “A loss of rank … would be devastating for my family. I ask you to show mercy for my family. They should not pay for this.”
The convening authority now must decide whether to uphold the sentence.