Navy Officer Testifies, Denies Intending To Rape Junior Officer

news
Navy Cmdr. John Michael Neuhart II, center, and defense lawyer Kerry Armstrong listen as a prosecutor outlines a case of attempted rape to San Diego Superior Court jurors.

A Navy commander accused of trying to rape a subordinate officer at her San Diego home last year testified Wednesday that she told him if she said “no” to his advances, she meant “keep going.”


But when she yelled “stop!” and “get off!,” John Michael Neuhart II said, he understood her literal meaning.

“So there was no ‘opposite-world’ meaning to those words?” Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tag asked him.

Neuhart, 40, is on trial in San Diego Superior Court on three counts involving assault with intent to commit rape, as well as burglary for allegedly forcing his way into the woman’s home, and resisting arrest afterward. He could spend life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

On the witness stand, Neuhart said, “I believed it was all consensual between us. It made sense.”

Tag dismissed his statement, calling it “bizarre” that he and the higly intoxicated victim would agree beforehand that if she wanted him to stop their aggressive foreplay, he should ignore her words and continue.

Under questioning from his attorney, Brian White, Neuhart testified that “I did not try to rape Kristin. I had no intention of raping Kristin.”

Prosecutors say that Neuhart, who at the time commanded a helicopter squadron in Guam, came to San Diego last year for a conference. On Sept. 11, he met for drinks with members of the squadron who were in town for training, and with Kristin, a former squadron member who had transferred to Coronado as a helicopter flight instructor.

Kristin’s full name was not used in court.

Neuhart has been relieved of his command while his trial is underway. He is assigned to headquarters section of San Diego-based Navy Region Southwest.

Security video from the downtown Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, where they were drinking, was shown in court. Kristin can be seen staggering, barely standing up at some points, with Neuhart’s arm around her as they walk down a hall and use an elevator.

Kristin testified earlier in the trial that she became very drunk and ended up taking a ride-share or cab with Neuhart to her Valencia Park home. She said he pulled off her pants and nearly raped her as she repeatedly screamed at him to stop and leave.

Neuhart testified Tuesday and Wednesday that they discussed having sex at her house before they left the hotel. He said he “waffled” about it because he is married, with five children, and because he was her superior officer — a violation of military fraternization rules.

Tag said the hotel video showed Kristin repeatedly pushing Neuhart away, including keeping her arms up between her body and his as they kissed. Neuhart testified that he recalled “her resting her arms on his chest” in a tender way.

He also said he asked Kristin if she wanted a “safe word,” which he understood would mean that she was feeling safe as their flirting led to sex. Neuhart said she told him “no,” which he took as the safe word she had chosen. He said that in the context of their time together, “no” meant “yes.”

After letting Neuhart into her house, where they kissed and hugged, she ordered him out. He went around to the back door and set up his cellphone to record on video his repeated efforts to get inside again. Neuhart testified that he did so to have proof that, if they had sex, it was consensual.

When the video was shown to jurors, Neuhart is shown loudly knocking on the door and tugging on the handles while Kristin yelled at him to stop and go away. But, she eventually let him in and could be heard crying and screaming for him to stop.

A neighbor who heard her called 911. As San Diego police arrived, Neuhart ran out the back and into a canyon, with his still-recording cellphone in his pocket. He fell — fracturing his leg. Officer caught him and arrested him.

———

©2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Seven of the twelve Soldiers participating in the Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Level 2 course at Fort Indiantown Gap practice folding the flag April 25. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig)

Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Associated Press photo)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.

"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."

Read More Show Less

Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

Read More Show Less

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.

Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

Read More Show Less