Officer accused of sexually assaulting sailor on Dutch naval frigate
The Koninklijke Marechaussee is investigating reports of a sex crime on board naval frigate Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman. A naval officer was accused of sexually assaulting a sailor. At least two other sailors also came forward to report him, the Telegraaf reports.
The Koninklijke Marechaussee, a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military, confirmed to the newspaper that an investigation was launched, but would give no further details. The Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman has been providing coronavirus assistance in the Caribbean since the start of April.
Sources on board the ship told the Telegraaf that a male officer sexually assaulted a sailor over the weekend. The sailor reported the incident and two Marechaussee officers were sent to investigate and take statements. Their presence prompted two other sailors to come forward. They reported that the officer involved previously harassed them too, but they did not report him at the time.
The Royal Navy initially decided to keep all involved working on the Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman, because the officer involved was essential to the progress of the mission, according to the newspaper. But on Wednesday he decided to leave the ship along with the Marechaussee. Colleagues will take over his tasks until a replacement from the Netherlands arrives.
The Koninklijke Marechaussee could not give the Telegraaf figures, but said that relatively few sexual offenses are reported within the military.
Lawyer Sebas Diekstra, who specializes in military affairs, told the newspaper that by far not all victims dare to come forward, especially if the perpetrator is their superior. "Partly because assault does not happen when you are on a deck with the full crew. There is often a one-to-one situation and so it is complex from an evidence technical point of view. A victim quickly fears that he or she will be blamed if the case comes to nothing"
Diekstra called the fact that others came forward once the first sailor reported the officer a "well-known phenomenon", according to the Telegraaf. "A case is then simmering until a victim hears that he is not alone. They feel stronger together and then report at the same time."