Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Navy Officer Says He Deserted Ship after He Was Subjected to Harassing Behaviour

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Navy Officer Says He Deserted Ship after He Was Subjected to Harassing Behaviour

Article excerpt

Navy officer says colleague urinated in cabin

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HALIFAX - An officer in the Royal Canadian Navy who pleaded guilty to desertion testified Monday that he left his post on a ship after he was subjected to deplorable behaviour that included a colleague urinating on his cabin floor.

Lt. Derek De Jong, 43, told a court martial that while he was wrong to leave his post aboard HMCS Preserver, he was harassed and his commanding officer failed to properly investigate his concerns.

De Jong left the supply vessel on Sept. 17, 2012, while it was docked in Key West, Fla., and he returned to Halifax, where he turned himself in to military police.

He said there were a series of incidents leading up to his desertion that began in late August that year.

On Aug. 20, De Jong had a conflict with another crew member over the handling of alleged misbehaviour by a female subordinate, he told his sentencing hearing.

The next day, a female officer came into his cabin while he was still asleep, pulled down her pants, squatted and urinated on the floor, he said.

De Jong said he reported the incident to the supply officer and the ship's commanding officer but no formal inquiry resulted.

He said a senior officer later joked, "Some men have to pay for a service like that," and a sign was briefly attached to his cabin door that said, "Women's head," a reference to a nautical term for a woman's bathroom.

"I don't think people should have to tolerate this kind of behaviour," De Jong said Monday.

"It's not a norm in Canadian society that we treat each other this way."

He said after the incident he felt he was working in a "toxic" environment, and he heard second-hand that he was no longer welcome in the wardroom among officers and other colleagues.

On the day before he deserted, he advised his superior officers against giving an excessive amount of alcohol to 270 crew members to celebrate the completion of their military operation in the Caribbean, the court martial heard. …

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