Three Dutch Navy members convicted of sexual assault

Three Naval personnel were convicted on Monday of sexually assaulting their colleague. The convicted men include a 35-year-old sergeant who led a series of sexually intimidating acts against the 22-year-old victim.

The men were accused of grabbing the victim on May 17, 2018 at the Baval base in Den Helder. The suspects allegedly pressed him against a table, forcing him to the ground, and then fondling his genitals against his will. They were also accused of humping the victim while he was on the ground.

The sergeant ordered one of his co-defendants, a 28-year-old seaman, to take off his pants and place his testicles and bare buttocks close to the victim's face. The sergeant was also accused of intimidation, and forcing the victim to simulate an oral sex act on a hammer.

In a statement, the court said the acts must have been particularly humiliating for having taken place in the presence of fellow soldiers. It also described the charges as being dangerous to the Netherlands for hindering the deployability of military entities, like Naval ships.

It handed down a conviction against the sergeant on charges of assault, of degrading the victim with a forceful lewd act as part of a group, and for ordering a subordinate to commit a crime. He was sentenced to four months in military detention. His 29-year-old co-defendant, a corporal, was found guilty of sexual assault. He was sentenced to three months in a military jail.

"The military chamber finds it particularly serious that the 35-year-old sergeant was the initiator. In addition, the military chamber strongly disapproves of both the sergeant and the corporal for not taking their responsibility as military superiors," the court said in a statement.

The seaman, 28, was also found guilty of committing a lewd act that violated the victim. The court in Arnhem, which only handles military cases, gave a more lenient sentence to the junior sailor, handing him 30 days in detention, with 27 days suspended if he meets the conditions of the court. He also has to complete 120 hours of community service.

The convicted men were also ordered to pay restitution to the victim of 2,500 euros.