USNA's sexual misconduct investigation of MAJ Mark Thompson

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by LongAgoPlebe, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Just read the entire article. I had heard about this. Sounds like they are all a bunch of liars and none of them should be in uniform. He definitely crossed the line of an appropriate relationship regardless if it was sexual or not. She is a liar and should of been kicked out as she was for sleeping with a Sailor. Now that she is married I honestly hope she has gotten some counseling because she has some character and relationship issues. Pretty clear he has lied on multiple occasions and had crossed the line from mentor to inapparorptie relationship regardless if sex was involved. Whole situation was preventable and disappointing.
     
  3. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    I remember the rumor mill of all this when I was at school. I had brief encounters/6 degrees kind of knowledge of both parties in the article but that's it.

    Whole thing is an embarrassing mess.
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

    It all starts with his failure to set boundaries between senior and junior. Never should have even been an idea in anyone's mind - all the texting and interactions. Especially a Marine officer, who always puts the welfare of those junior before his/her own - I am sure Hoops' and Hurricane's Marine souls are horrified.

    I saw a few incidents while I was a BattO, but the most OMG moments I had were reading officer misconduct files that came over from Chief of Naval Personnel for review by CNO. I needed a shower after some of them. I felt the same about this story.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
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  5. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    And those who make false accusations should also be identified and removed. It's beyond me why a cadet or mid can falsely accuse someone of very serious charges that could land the accused in jail for years, but when proved innocent there are no repercussions for the lying cadet/mid.

    A situation like the one I just described just occurred at Air Force. Accused cadet found not guilty. Lying accuser cadet suffers no consequences.
     
  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Freda'sMom, I agree. But, most of these cases tend to fall into the gray zone vice black and white. So that is much easier said than done.
     
  7. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    Bill Clinton could have told him that going to the press never seems to improve things.
     
  8. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Any accused being found not guilty can, at one end of the possibility spectrum, imply not innocent but the Govt had insufficient evidence to determine guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt if in court martial setting. Administrative procedures, different ball game.

    Navy Hoops is quite right. There have been so many he said/she said cases in the gray area, with lying on both sides, that it is extremely difficult to prove guilt. The system is designed to err on the side of presumed innocence - which means some truly guilty parties will escape consequences because of lack of proof. Just as it does in the wider system of American justice.

    The saddest outcome is when true victims are reluctant to come forward in these cases, because they are afraid they will be accused of lying or "playing the rape card."

    There are good mids and cadets with otherwise stellar professional demeanor who do bad things, whether out of a momentary lack of impulse control or a moral blind spot.

    These cases are messy, and ultimately, very sad. Very instructive, if observers choose to watch their own boundaries more carefully and avoid situations at the top of the slippery slope.
     
  9. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    My college has an honor code, but it's not nearly as strong as the service academies' and SMCs are. Nonetheless, I think I've mentioned before that a student accused an instructor of sexual misconduct, a charge later fully disproved, and the student was expelled for making a false statement against another and for lying under affirmation. As a consequence of that incident, and a number of other less-publicized incidents, my college hired a consulting firm (they were fantastic) to assist both students and faculty/staff in understanding how these things happen.

    Our new faculty and staff, from Deans down to custodians, all take a workshop helping us to understand how these young people's minds work and don't work, sometimes; and how to avoid seemingly innocuous situations that could get one or both parties in trouble later. We faculty can be in particularly tight spots because our students evaluate us, and we know from research that it's essentially a reflection of how much they like us. So we try to be friendly, but some of my colleagues mistakenly thought this was the same as being a friend. We had to be reminded that our roles are hierarchical, and they're positions of authority, and being friendly does not make us our students' friends. We also learned that many students don't start out intending to lie or make false reports. (This is true whether we're talking about underage drinking, plagiarism, or sexual misconduct.) They get in a pinch. They want out, and look, there's a door. I'll just tell a little innocent lie! No one will get hurt! And what harm can there be in saying I was actually with my friend? Who is it going to hurt? We are buds, we have to stick together! I was a bit surprised, I admit, to learn that these episodes may not be because of poor moral strength or understanding, but just because their brains haven't developed all the way yet. When Sadler's friend asked Sadler to cover for her and back her story, this is what came to mind. (Please understand I'm commenting about young people generally, not the specifics of this case, about which I know nothing but what I read in the article.)

    Having said that, there should always be one person in that relationship - the instructor or mentor or coach - who had darn well better know not just right and wrong, but the implications and impressions of such a warped mentor-mentee relationship. Sadler's actions might be understood, even as she should have been and was held accountable, but like NavyHoops said, Thompson's relationship with his student was absolutely inappropriate regardless whether there was any sex.
     
  10. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    One on one interactions between faculty and student, behind closed doors is just setting someone up for problems. Keep the door open. Have private conversations in a public setting. Why would you even want to take the chance?
     
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  11. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Definitely that's a big part of it. I also learned that something as innocent as texting with students can be problematic because, while we old farts see texting as a tool, with utility, for young people the purpose of texting is much more about forming and maintaining relationships. So they may think that a perfectly innocent message from me, "Running late, haha!" is actually much more than that.
     
  12. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    Ugh....my 58 year old college buddy who is married but has no children, likes to text my two young adult daughters jokes and thinks he is being "hip."

    In all actually it simply comes off as creepy.
     
  13. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    I would be more than a bit concerned about the texts to daughters from a 58 year old man. My DD's high school, which may be true for many, strictly prohibits texting between students and staff as well as Facebook "friending". The only texts allowed are if they come from a group source called "Remind" to notify athletes, band members, etc. and their parents of upcoming events.
     
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  14. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I watched a Dr Phil episode a few weeks ago in which a female high school teacher and a student were texting... and somehow she didn't find an issue with it. Then again since she didn't have him assigned as a student in any of her classes she didn't see what the problem was with sleeping with him. You can't fix stupid.
     
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  15. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    I have to admit I'm a teensy bit paranoid now. I already took care to meet my students publicly and keep my door open. When DH and I have social gatherings with our students (a common practice at our small college), it's always with at least 3 of them, and we don't serve alcohol - even to students "of age." I don't text with students, but I tweet reminders to a group (e.g. a class or my lab group). And I don't Facebook or Instagram until they've graduated. Still, every time I decide to close my office door for a crying student or one who wants to discuss health issues, I'm aware that I'm vulnerable. I'm not sure that awareness is a bad thing, though.
     
  16. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    That is a tough one LongAgo... you clearly do what is right, but even one accusation could derail things. That has got to be tough for teachers of all levels. The Major should of been taking notes from you on proper conduct of someone in an authority position.
     
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  17. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    I would not call it paranoid, but rather cautious. What you are doing is important to protect you and your students and insure that no one gets themselves into a compromising position.

    I am an adult leader for the boy scouts, which has had it issues with sexual misconduct. They teach/train similar precautions. No one on one contact. Two deep leadership. They have youth protection training (a lot of which is to protect the adults) training videos that anyone can view. Also, remember those emails, alway copy someone else, their parent, another parent, because email is another place where you will want to minimize the opportunity for 1:1 contact.
     
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  18. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    Totally agree. emails with cc is far better than texting or social media. As a financial advisor, we designed our firm's conference room in glass with "transparency" in mind.
     
  19. brovol

    brovol Member

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    True. Criminal and civil cases have different standards of proof; and thus can lead to opposite results.

    When I read the story I was wondering why Thompson didn't testify in his criminal case. As a former defense attorney, prosecutor, and now a judge, I have been involved in far more criminal trials than I can remember, and it is far less frequent that a defense attorney doesn't want to call his/her client to testify. One circumstance is when the attorney knows that by calling the client it would be soliciting perjured testimony, or if the client knows that truthful testimony would be incriminating. By the end of the story it became apparent that may have been the reason for not testifying.

    This story is an ugly reminder that bad characters exist even in the unlikeliest places. I am surprised that the upper-class midshipmen have as much freedom as is reflected in the story.
     
  20. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    They actually have less freedom then when I was there and even less then the crew that was ahead of me. The major incidents they speak about in the article, the croquet game, is on a weekend. For the most part if 1/C do not have duty or other military obligations, they have the weekend free. The other incident they focus on was graduation day... and we always joked around it was like poof... we had been paroled as soon as we threw our hats in the air and trusted adults (I mean in 30 days folks headed to sea, I would hope we would be). When Midshipmen are on Movement Order, they are in a duty status and are not at liberty to drink even of age. The fact he let her consume alcohol, unless the rules have changed, is wrong (among the million other things he did that are simply wrong).
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

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