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Former Gunston Hall CMC retires in wake of harassment report

Aug. 30, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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NORFOLK, VA. — The former top enlisted sailor aboard the amphibious dock landing ship Gunston Hall is retiring after a Navy investigation revealed a pattern of sexual harassment.

Command Master Chief Kelly Smith was removed from his job one year ago as the Navy announced an investigation into alleged misconduct. A report on the investigation obtained by The Virginian-Pilot revealed “a pattern of sexual harassment and fraternizing behavior” by Smith.

It included passing a note to a lower-ranking female sailor with the link to a “swingers” website where couples swapped spouses. The note sparked the investigation, which uncovered other actions that called Smith’s character into question, the report stated.

Smith declined a request for an interview.

Since his removal from duty in September 2012, Smith has been serving shore duty in Norfolk. He accepted nonjudicial punishment, also known as captain’s mast, and is voluntarily retiring after 23 years in the Navy.

In a statement to a Navy investigator, Smith admitted sharing the website with the sailor but denied coming on to her. He told the investigator his wife had used the website to book a vacation.

The website includes a travel page with links to swinger resorts and cruises, but Smith denied ever engaging in spouse-swapping.

The investigation, which included a search of Smith’s Navy email account, revealed a series of interactions with sailors and other women that found Smith:

■ told a civilian employee he would cancel a meeting if the employee agreed to flash him.

■ received a photo from a female sailor and responded by writing, “Maybe something a little more sexy.”

■ frequently emailed love notes to a woman who was not his wife.

The investigator concluded there was evidence to suggest that “an inappropriate relationship of some sort existed between Smith and other subordinate sailors.”

In his interview with the investigator, Smith denied having a sexual relationship with anyone other than his wife.

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