THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
                 Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: THURSDAY, June 30, 1994                    TAG: 9406300028 
SECTION: FRONT                     PAGE: A14    EDITION: FINAL  
SOURCE: Medium 
DATELINE: 940630                                 LENGTH: 


{LEAD} Adm. Stanley Arthur is a victim of sexual harassment. No, not the kind you usually read about in the newspapers and see on television. But in a Navy that is scared of its own shadow in wake of the Tailhook imbroglio, his fate is likely to become far more common as a few officers seek to uphold standards in the face of enormous pressure to accommodate demands from organized feminist politicians and pressure groups.

Admiral Arthur's career has been sterling up to now. A veteran of hundreds of air combat missions in Vietnam, he commanded the largest armada assembled since World War II during the Persian Gulf war. Now serving as vice chief of naval operations, he was slated to take over as Navy commander in the Pacific, one of the service's premiere commands, with an area of responsibility stretching from one pole to the other and from the west coast of the Americas to the eastern coast of Africa.

{REST} But last weekend, Admiral Arthur withdrew his name from nomination, at the ``encouragement'' of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jeremy Boorda. Minnesota Republican Sen. David Durenberger had threatened a major fight over confirming his nomination in the Senate, a fight that threatened to create a ``gap'' in the continuity of command in the Pacific. His withdrawal effectively means his career is over.

Did Admiral Arthur fondle or paw at women under his command? Did he overlook such conduct by others? Not at all. All he did was approve the dismissal from flight school of Lt. j.g. Rebecca Hansen, who had previously complained of sexual harassment by her flight instructor. Her complaint was investigated and the instructor reprimanded. He subsequently resigned from the Navy. Lieutenant Hansen claimed that her dismissal from flight school represented retaliation for the filing of her complaint.

Lieutenant Hansen's charges of retaliation were investigated by the Navy Inspector General and found to be without merit. Navy Secretary John Dalton - the man who recommended the firing of Adm. Frank Kelso for alleged involvement in the Tailhook incident - also reviewed the findings and agreed with them. Lieutenant Hansen was described as a pilot of ``marginal'' ability whose skills simply did not come up to Navy standards.

``Lt. j.g. Hansen's record showed that she had been a marginal student aviator from the beginning,'' Admiral Arthur wrote in a letter to Senator Durenberger. ``This was true throughout her flight training, before, during and after her sexual harassment incident. . . . I do not desire to see her or perhaps others die because she could not perform at a level consistent with our standards.''

None of that was good enough for Senator Durenberger, however, who has no shortage of ethical problems of his own. Admiral Boorda, who made plain when he took the CNO's job last month that he would toe the feminist line, was unwilling to stand up and fight for Admiral Arthur and kicked him over the side. Also weighing against Admiral Arthur was the fact that he had unsuccessfully insisted that Lt. Paula Coughlin, who first made the Tailhook charges, be forced to repay an $18,000 bonus she had received for re-enlisting when she chose to resign earlier this year.

And Lt. j.g. Hansen? She was given the royal treatment by the Navy, including a meeting with Boorda himself and other top Navy officials. She was offered her choice of duty in almost any other Navy occupation open to women. She held out for re-instatement to flight school or, failing that, a law-school education at taxpayer expense. Unable to come to terms, she will now be discharged.

Unfortunately, the treatment Adm. Arthur has endured may soon become institutionalized in law as well as fact. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ronald Dellums has passed legislation that would make it all but impossible to take any sort of disciplinary action against a woman who has filed a charge of sexual harassment.

Supposedly, the goal is to prevent ``retaliation.'' In fact, it will give any woman in the services who is experiencing career problems an incentive to file a sexual harassment claim. The chain of command will be broken and discipline will suffer accordingly. The Senate has not taken up the bill.

Elaine Donnelly, a former Pentagon official who now heads the Center for Military Readiness, has called for Admiral Arthur's reinstatement. That would be simple justice in the face of his shabby treatment at the hands of a service and a nation to which he has devoted his life.


by CNB