A master chief stationed aboard the Italy-based 6th Fleet flagship Mount Whitney received non-judicial punishment last month on charges of fraternizing with a female sailor and lying to investigators, according to a Feb. 22 plea agreement.
Master Chief Electronics Technician Anthony J. Witters pleaded guilty at NJP to “wrongfully engaging in unduly familiar behavior” with a female sailor on Oct. 28, 2016, near the ship’s homeport in Gaeta, after he made sexual advances toward her, the agreement states.
He also pleaded guilty to sending a female sailor electronic messages on March 17, 2017, “in which he asked if he could ‘play with her boobs again,’ and told her to ‘delete these messages,’ or words to that effect,” the agreement states.
The names of other sailors involved are redacted on the charge sheets provided to Navy Times.
He also pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about whether he knew a sailor was in the military on Oct. 28, 2016, and about sending electronic messages, according to his agreement.
Witters was sentenced to forfeiture of half a month’s pay and he received a punitive letter of reprimand, according to Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia spokesman Lt. Timothy Pietrack.
Although his sentence included being restricted to the Mount Whitney for 45 days along with 45 days of extra duty, those portions of his punishment were suspended for six months, according to Pietrack.
That means if the Florida native remains on good behavior for six months he won’t face the 45 and 45 penalties.
Witters had faced court-martial earlier this year on charges that included abusive sexual contact that involved kissing and touching a female sailor without her consent on Oct. 28, 2016, near Gaeta, charge sheets show.
“The convening authority no longer felt that it was appropriate to pursue Article 120 charges due to evidentiary issues,” Pietrack said in an email. “However, it was determined that the remaining alleged misconduct (fraternization and false official statement) as minor offenses should be adjudicated in the more appropriate venue of a…’non-judicial punishment’ hearing.”
Witters’ military attorney, Lt. Ryan Mooney, lauded the dismissal of charges and said in a statement that “any other action related to his case is unassociated with those false allegations.”
Mooney added that “Witters is gratified the resolution of the false allegations against him have resulted in the dismissal of charges” and the master chief " maintained his innocence throughout this process.”
Sixth Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Umayam said Witters was the combat systems department’s leading chief petty officer on board the Mount Whitney before his NJP agreement.
His job duties included managing and overseeing maintenance of the ship’s combat systems and communications equipment, Umayam said.
Service records indicate that Witters reported to the Mount Whitney on Oct. 19, 2016, nine days before prosecutors said he started fraternizing.
He enlisted in 1996 and pinned on master chief in 2017, according to his service records.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.