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The commanding officer of the Navy Region Japan legal service office was fired Thursday over his failure "to adequately resource, supervise and oversee" the case of a Navy doctor convicted of molesting female patients, the Navy said.
Most damning, perhaps, was investigators' finding that victims were not made aware of their right to provide input into the plea-bargaining process. The doctor, then-Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Velasquez, was convicted in May 2010 on four related charges but had another 29 withdrawn and dismissed, and he served only a fraction of his original sentence under the terms of that pre-trial agreement, said Lt. Justin Cole, a Navy spokesman.
The commander, Capt. Rex Guinn, was relieved by Rear Adm. Nanette DeRenzi, commander of Navy Legal Service Command and the deputy judge advocate general, for "loss of confidence in his ability to command." Guinn has been reassigned locally; his replacement has not yet been named but will be a Navy lawyer and captain with previous experience as a commanding officer.
Guinn is the second Navy commanding officer fired in 2011. The first was the carrier http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/01/navy-enterprise-videos-skipper-fired-010411w/">Enterprise's CO, Capt. Owen Honors.
The charges against Velasquez stemmed from incidents that took place in Japan and Kuwait between March 2006 and June 2008, Cole said. Allegations arose out of the investigation that certain procedures in the Navy's Victim and Witness Assistance Program were not followed. The program, begun in 1996, calls for victims to be kept well-informed throughout and to participate in the judicial process, Cole said.
In August, the commander of Naval Installations Command, Vice Adm. Michael Vitale, directed a "targeted inspection" of Navy Region Japan's VWAP, Cole said. That inquiry, completed Dec. 2, concluded that the region "had not been compliant with VWAP standards," Cole said.
Some elements of the program had been implemented correctly, and there was no evidence of willful misconduct, he said. But the inquiry also found that the "lack of awareness of a lot of the responsibilities and requirements associated with VWAP were the root cause for the lack of compliance."
As a result, DeRenzi convened an investigation of Guinn's command Dec. 27. The investigation concluded Thursday, Cole said.
In addition to Guinn's firing, seven other members of the regional legal service office received "appropriate administrative measures" for their failure to comply with or supervise compliance with VWAP procedures. Cole declined to be more specific or to identify the individuals or their positions, saying that doing so for such a small office would ease identification of individuals not considered to be public figures. He declined to say whether any of the seven were Navy lawyers.