NEWS

US Navy officer accused of rape

The commanding officer of a 300-member US Navy flight squadron has been charged with raping a junior enlisted sailor under his command while stationed last year at the US naval base at Souda Bay, in Crete. Cmdr William S. Petrie, a 23-year-old navy veteran, was also accused of failing to obey a policy of the armed services not to fraternize with enlisted personnel and ignoring a specific order to return to the US naval base while stationed in Greece, the Associated Press reported from Virginia, citing military legal documents released Friday. Petrie had led the «Rawhides» of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron VRC-40 at Norfolk Naval Station since July 2000. The alleged rape occurred on October 7, and Petrie was charged on December 11. He is to appear at an Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court, tomorrow. According to military legal documents, Petrie engaged in an «unduly familiar personal relationship» with the victim at the US Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay. According to sources who requested anonymity in interviews with Kathimerini’s English Edition, the victim is still stationed at the base. According to one source, the victim had gone out with Petrie one weekend night on October. A few days later, she appeared before friends shaken and all bruised up, and told them that her escort that night had sexually abused her. «You could see the bruise marks on her legs and arms, and even her back,» one person who met with her the following week said. «There was even a bruise mark on her eye.» The victim filled a report with the office of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on the base and, following an investigation by NCIS special agents, the navy charged Petrie. The charges also accuse Petrie of kissing and engaging or attempting to engage in sexual activity with a sailor under his command. Unlike most squadrons, VRC-40 does not deploy as a unit. Instead, two plane detachments aboard each deployed carrier provide continuous fleet support. The squadron flies C-2A Greyhounds, a twin-engine cargo aircraft designed to land on aircraft carriers. Powered by two T-6 turboprop engines, the C-2A can deliver passengers and a payload of up to 10,000 pounds. Petrie was at Souda Bay last October with at least some members of his squadron, according to the military legal documents. The US naval base at Souda Bay has nine permanent tenant commands, a deployed Seabee detachment, and four year-round air force and navy operational detachments. About 460 service members serve at the base, with a US and Greek civilian population of approximately another 440. – Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis travel to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, for an informal meeting of EU justice and interior ministers.