In Brown, the Appellant was convicted, MJA, of disrespect to a petty officer and "convicted" of violating the order against sexual harassment. He was sentenced to restriction for 30 days, RiR to E4, and a reprimand.
It appears that the MJ when entering findings "excepted language from the sexual harassment specification that was necessary for guilt, effectively acquitting Appellant of the specification."
Appellant asserts the evidence is legally insufficient to support his convictions for disrespect in two ways: (1) Article 91, UCMJ, does not cover disrespect by remote means of communication, such as a text message; and (2) because the Government specifically alleged he was disrespectful in deportment, as opposed to in language, it was required, but failed, to prove that the acts were done “in the presence” of the victims. We disagree and hold that Article 91 is broad enough to encompass disrespectful text messages sent directly to the victim, whether they are disrespectful in language or in deportment.
On a second question, the court finds that sending a disresptful text to a petty officer is sufficiently criminal. In doing so they go wayback (without machine) to 1917 to explain what it means for language to be "toward."
Similarly, going all the way back to 1917—when the MCM was issued under the authority of the Secretary of War, not the President—it explained:
On the acquital,
Prior to trial, Appellant challenged the sufficiency of the specification on the basis that it was impossible that Appellant created a hostile work environment at PO3 C.L.’s “A” school because he had no connection to it. During argument on the motion to dismiss the specification, the military judge asked trial defense counsel whether there would be any issue if he simply struck that language. Trial defense counsel responded that would leave an insufficient specification because the language is necessary to allege a violation of the sexual harassment order. The Government did not dispute that an effect on the working environment needed to be alleged and proved. Rather, it argued that the entire Coast Guard was the working environment and that it was therefore possible for Appellant to affect it.
The court opines that the military judges denial of the motion was correct because the Order required as an element that ". Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment." But,
Following the close of evidence, the military judge reversed course. He found Appellant guilty of the specification except the words, “while she was attending ‘A’ school which created an offensive work environment.” He issued special findings where he now stated that “ACN 085/18 defines sexual harassment as ‘other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . .’ and ‘encompasses unwelcome display or communication of sexually offensive materials.’” App. Ex. XXVIII at 9 (ellipsis in original). He found that Appellant “was on notice that, as part of the specification, he had sexually harassed the named victim by communicating sexually offensive materials” and that while the Government had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant sent an unwelcome video, it had not proven that it created an offensive working environment. Id. In short, upon reconsideration, the military judge interpreted ACN 085/18 as not requiring the Government to prove that Appellant’s conduct created an offensive working environment.
The court concluded that this course reversal wrong.
We conclude that an impact on the workplace, as alleged in the specification, was required to prove a violation of ACN 085/18. By finding Appellant not guilty of that portion of the specification alleging the required workplace impact, the military judge effectively acquitted Appellant of the specification.
On sentence reassessment the court finds the 30 days restriction, RiR to E6, and the reprimanc to be appropriate. They also ordered the reprimand be rewritten to be consistent with the affirmed findings.
Cheers, Phil Cave.
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