The Naval Inspector General has determined that a junior officer who accused his command of giving him anti-gay call signs was improperly punished with a bad fitness report when he complained about the environment in his squadron. The Pentagon IG agreed.
The new findings substantiate Ensign Steve Crowston’s claim of reprisal by Cmdr. Liam Bruen, former commander of Strike Fighter Squadron 136 out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
Bruen, who transferred last summer to the Bremerton, Wash.-based carrier John C. Stennis as its the operations officer, has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Naval Air Force Pacific “pending the outcome of the investigation,” Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez told Navy Times. A copy of the reprisal investigation has been forwarded to his chain of command aboard Stennis “for corrective action as they deem appropriate,” Vasquez said.
Crowston told the IG that Bruen and the unit’s then-executive officer, Cmdr. Damien Christopher, were in the unit’s ready room during an August 2009 all-officer review of squadron call signs, when Crowston was presented with suggestions such as “Fagmeister,” “Gay Boy” and the group’s final choice, “Romo’s Bitch” — a reference to the quarterback of Crowston’s favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys. Crowston was the squadron’s administration/legal officer.
Christopher is now the now commanding officer of the unit, which flies F/A-18 Super Hornets and is deployed aboard the Norfolk-based carrier Enterprise. The Naval IG’s finding concerned only the officer who wrote the fitrep, Vasquez said.
Crowston, who is assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 at Little Creek, Va., will not disclose his sexuality, saying he feels it isn’t relevant and that his concerns are for what he considers to be inappropriate workplace harassment.
Two additional Naval IG investigations remain in progress, Vasquez said. One is looking at the original IG complaint Crowston filed with Naval Air Force Atlantic, which alleged open anti-gay bias and a hostile work environment at the squadron, as well as various administrative violations. The other is examining AIRLANT’s conduct of its investigation, which substantiated four of 19 allegations. Crowston claims that the AIRLANT IG, Beverly Bilger, told him that she knew Bruen and told Bruen he’d been named.