HONOLULU (CN) - A Navy Sexual Victims Advocate sexually harassed a contract employee, texting her "explicit pictures of a male ejaculating," and though he was disciplined for it, she was fired in retaliation for reporting him, she claims in court.
Deborah Chargualaf sued Spectrum Healthcare Resources and its Honolulu representative, Trina Bowman, in Federal Court.
Neither the Navy nor her alleged harasser, Jason Seaton, are named as defendants, though they are identified in the lawsuit.
Chargualaf claims that while working for Spectrum as a medical assistant at the Kaneohe (Oahu) Marine Corps Base Naval Health Clinic's Family Practice unit known as B-POD, she received numerous explicit pictures from the Navy's Seaton, who worked in the same installation.
She says the sexual harassment occurred from July to September 2011, and that retaliation from other Navy personnel ensued.
According to the complaint, Seaton texted "numerous pictures of a penis" to her phone, "explicit pictures of a male ejaculating in the department's bathroom," and finally "a full picture of Navy Corpsman Jason body including his face."
Chargualaf says she told Seaton "to stop sending pictures or she would report him to his supervisors."
The lawsuit continues: "On or about July 7, 2011 Navy corpsman Seaton came to plaintiff Chargualaf as she was preparing paperwork and asked her to look at his pants to see that Seaton had an erection."
She says she warned him again "to stop his behavior or she would report him. Corpsman Seaton responded that she would not be believed as he was the Navy Sexual Victims Advocate and the assistant to supervisor HM2 Marroquin."
[An HM2 in the Navy is an enlisted medical specialist.]
Seaton's sexual harassment continued through August and September, Chargualaf says in the 18-pagte lawsuit.
Finally, on Oct. 3, 2011, "Plaintiff Chargualaf reported Corpsman Seaton's behavior to the Clinic Supervisor Navy HM2 Marroquin. Navy HM2 Marroquin discouraged plaintiff Chargualaf and counseled plaintiff Chargualaf to think hard before making any complaint. Plaintiff Chargualaf was forced to work alongside Navy Corpsman Seaton. Navy HM2 Marroquin informed plaintiff Chargualaf that Navy HM2 Marroquin could not believe what plaintiff Chargualaf reported about Navy Corpsman Seaton." Having failed through this channel, Chargualaf says, "On or about October 9, 2011 plaintiff Chargualaf went to Active Duty Nurse Henzler and reported the sexual harassment. Navy Corpsman Seaton was immediately removed. Navy HM2 Marroquin upon finding that plaintiff Chargualaf had complained to Active Duty Nurse Henzler, was outraged that plaintiff Chargualaf had reported Corpsman Seaton."
Retaliation followed swiftly, Chargualaf claims: "On or about October 11, 2011 Plaintiff Chargualaf was reassigned from her regular unit at B-POD to C-POD which was staffed by active duty Navy personnel who were friends of Corpsman Seaton. On October 26, 2011 plaintiff Chargualaf asked Spectrum to be returned to her regular work unit but was not allowed to return to her normal work unit until the middle of November.
"On or about December 1, 2011, an internal investigation by the Navy found Corpsman Seaton guilty of sexual assault. Corpsman Seaton was stripped of his duty as the Sexual Advocate Officer and subjected to a 'captains mass.'" [Sic, recte: mast.]
A Naval captain's mast is a form of nonjudicial punishment for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Despite assurances that the matter would remain confidential, Chargualaf says, Seaton contacted her co-workers about the incident, and supervisor Marroquin's replacement (nonparty Navy HM2 Lucero) continued the retaliation.
"Immediately upon taking over from Navy HM2 Marroquin, Navy HM2 Lucero began singling out plaintiff Chargualaf, sending her emails threatening to report her for perceived deficiencies in completing tasks," the complaint states.
She claims she received numerous "writeups" from other Navy personnel without her knowledge, for being "tardy" and exhibiting "violent behavior."
Chargualaf says the writeups were passed on to defendants Spectrum and Bowman, who used them as a pretext for firing her.
She seeks front and back pay and punitive damages for discrimination, sexual harassment, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Janice P. Kim.
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