Rampant Sexism, Navy Officer Says

     WASHINGTON (CN) – An unmarried officer says the Navy court-martialed her for adultery and imprisoned, fined and discharged her, but commended the married man with whom she had the alleged affair.

     Lt. Commander Syneeda Lynn Penland sued Navy Secretary Raymond E. Mabus Jr. Penland says has served 19 years and 4 months as an enlisted sailor and Navy officer, and was convicted on May 23, 2008 by a Navy general court martial of adultery, conduct unbecoming an officer, making a false official statement and failure to obey a lawful order.
     The charges resulted from an alleged sexual relationship she had with a married officer, Lt. j.g. Mark Wiggan, who was not prosecuted, and was given a Navy Commendation medal after his command was made aware of the charges against him.
     Penland says she was sentenced to 60 days confinement at the Miramar Naval Brig in San Diego and fined $9,000 fine. Her requests for clemency were denied and the Navy Judge Advocate General’s office upheld her conviction and ordered her discharged from the Navy by July 31.
     Penland alleges that for at least a year before charges were brought against her, she had raised numerous complaints with military and civilian officials about financial improprieties at Maritime Expeditionary Security Group ONE.
     Moreover, Penland, who is black, says she also had filed an EEOC complaint alleging racial and gender discrimination.
     She says command officials retaliated against her before she was charged with adultery and the other offenses.
     In a separate mandamus petition, Penland, who has been diagnosed with thrombocytosis, a potentially life-threatening condition for which she is undergoing chemotherapy, says that if she is discharged as scheduled, 9 months short of retirement, she will be unable to get her pension, severance pay and health insurance benefits and will be forced into the overburdened Veterans Affairs health system.
     Penland seeks dismissal of the charges against her and an order allowing her to continue on active duty until March 2010, when she will be eligible to retire.
     Both complaints were Federal Court by attorney E. Christopher Amos.

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