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An Army chaplain at Camp Zama, Japan, disciplined for adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer, is now the subject of an FBI probe for Internet extortion, Army and FBI officials confirmed.

Capt. Mike Myers, 45, who was ordained by the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, received a Field Grade Article 15 in November. Army officials say he remains with Camp Zama’s 500th Military Intelligence Battalion but isn’t performing any chaplain duties.

“We’re waiting on the FBI to finish their investigation,” said Maj. Jim Crawford, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman. “He’s still a captain, still in the chaplain corps … but he has no contact with troops and is not counseling troops.

“Until the FBI investigation is finished, we can’t say much or speculate. We don’t allow someone who’s under suspicion for these types of charges to counsel people who might have similar problems. Every officer is a moral authority and certainly a chaplain is in that position.”

Joanne Ruffner, a 33-year-old Arizona woman who spent nine years in the Army, claims she was romantically involved with Myers until discovering he actually was a chaplain — and married with two teenage children.

If Myers is charged with additional crimes, a decision will have to be made on who prosecutes — federal authorities or the military, Crawford said.

Attempts to reach Myers by telephone and e-mail have been unsuccessful.

His military defense lawyer, Capt. Lynn Williams, also could not be reached.

An official who monitors chaplain endorsements for the National Association of Evangelicals was never notified by the Army about the nonjudicial punishment against Myers, according to the Arizona Daily Star, which ran a lengthy article Feb. 11 detailing the relationship between Ruffner and Myers. Charles Marvin told the paper that proven cases of adultery usually lead to revocation of a chaplain’s endorsement, required for military ministers.

Sometime after the Army launched its investigation, Ruffner said she discovered several e-mail accounts in her name and that photos and information about her were posted on adult-oriented Web sites — some requiring payment for access. Also, she said five nude pictures of her were sent to executives and co-workers at the Realtor association she works for in southeastern Arizona.

After discovering the online material through Internet searches and by tracing IP addresses to Japan, Ruffner said she alerted the FBI last fall.

Ruffner said she believes Myers posted and sent the material, and did so in an attempt to intimidate her.

“I only know one person in Japan,” she said.

Maj. Martha Brooks, a U.S. Army Japan spokeswoman, acknowledged last month that the FBI is investigating the matter. She said the FBI bureau in Arizona could be contacted for further information.

Special Agent Deb McCarley, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Phoenix office, confirmed such a probe is under way but declined to provide specific details.

“An Internet extortion case is open, based on allegations made against one individual by a young lady in Tucson,” McCarley said Wednesday, adding the agency would not reveal identities unless there’s enough evidence to bring charges.

It’s unclear how long the FBI inquiry might last, McCarley added.

In a telephone interview with Stripes, Ruffner says she thought she’d finally found the man of her dreams in Myers.

The two met through an Internet hiking group in May 2004, became friends and continued a long-distance correspondence after the officer took an assignment to Camp Zama and then deployed to Iraq the following year, she said.

The relationship took a serious turn last July when the couple officially declared themselves “dating,” Ruffner said, adding that they spent three days together in a Kansas City, Mo., hotel in August while Myers was on leave from the desert.

She said they even set a wedding date.

But shortly after Myers returned to Camp Zama in September, Ruffner said things began to unravel when she started learning about the truth.

After Myers got back to Japan from his yearlong Iraq deployment last fall, he became very distant, Ruffner said. She didn’t hear from him for four days.

Then came an e-mail titled, “i’m sorry.”

In the e-mail, which Ruffner says is from Myers, Myers called it “the most difficult letter” he’d ever written. It stated that a 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son he’d lost contact with had suddenly come to Japan — along with their mother. It went on to say he had to take a couple days off work to find housing and the four were now living together.

“You had asked me a long time ago if I had ever been married. I misread it and thought you asked if I was married,” the e-mail says. “Then you asked me a similar question again and at the time we were not ‘serious’ and I never thot we would ever be, so I just said no. Well, I was married some time ago and I also have two children who I have not seen in a very long time and did not ever expect to see any time soon.”

Saying that although he wasn’t “real happy” about the woman being at Camp Zama, the e-mail said he no choice and then made an effort to break off their relationship.

Ruffner said she felt stunned, hurt and betrayed but still felt the two could work through it.

But Myers wouldn’t talk to her, she said. The only time he e-mailed or called was from work.

While waiting for him to get online for a chat Oct. 13, Ruffner said she started surfing the Internet and found a picture of Myers as a chaplain when he was at a base in Kuwait.

Two days later, Ruffner says she received another e-mail from him. At the time, Myers remained unaware she had learned about his real occupation, according to Ruffner.

“I have been doing a lot of ‘soul searching’ the past few weeks,” the e-mail reads. “I have been going to church and have been counseling with mh (mental health) and w/a chaplain.

“We have been discussing our relationship and he has opened some things up to me that i never thot about before. Since i was not divorced for infidelity, according to the bible i should not marry again. I’m having a lot of tugging and pulling with this because i want to do what is right.”

Ruffner said she then notified Army officials and complied with requests from investigators to turn over documentation, photographs and e-mails that detailed their relationship. She also sent material to Stars and Stripes.

“My life has been shattered by this man, this chaplain. I cannot understand how any man of God could do something so cold to another human being for two years, how anyone can do this to another person.”


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