In the latest embarrassment for the scandal-ridden Australian navy, a senior officer was found guilty yesterday of spanking a junior female sailor in his cabin on four separate occasions.
Lt-Commander John Jones, 58, told the young woman that the assaults were "a test to see how disciplined and compliant you [are]". He ordered her to count the smacks aloud and admit she was "a naughty girl" while he made her buttocks "nice and red".
A court martial convicted Jones of seven acts of indecency, committed aboard a ship and at the woman's home in Western Australia. In addition to spanking her, he fondled her bottom and made her remove items of clothing. He faces a probable prison sentence.
The case follows a string of scandals within the Australian Defence Force, and particularly the navy. The Defence Minister Stephen Smith has ordered no less than six inquiries into issues such as binge drinking and the treatment of women. Particularly salacious stories have emerged from a supply ship, HMAS Success, said to have been a hotbed of sexual bullying and drug and alcohol abuse. Sailors on the ship, which was deployed to South-east Asia in 2009, allegedly put a "bounty" on each of their female colleagues, then placed bets on who would bed them first, detailing their exploits in a ledger.
During the same trip, two sailors reportedly celebrated Anzac Day, the national day of remembrance, by having sex on a pool table in a Chinese bar as their comrades watched and cheered.
This time last year, the navy admitted it was investigating a drug-dealing ring alleged to be operating out of its Garden Island base on Sydney Harbour. Three months later, police raided a naval base in Cairns following more drug-trafficking claims.
At least two cases of alleged rape, one of them involving an assault filmed by a colleague, are currently being investigated. And it has also emerged that a sailor was allowed to remain in the navy despite pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.
In addition, the military has been shamed by a widely reported incident at the elite Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, where a male cadet allegedly broadcast himself having sex with a female student on the internet. A subsequent inquiry into the academy found that 74 per cent of female and 30 per cent of male cadets had been sexually harassed.
In the latest case, Jones claimed the spanking was consensual. Unluckily for him, the woman secretly taped one of their sessions. He has already pleaded guilty to attempting to destroy a laptop containing pornography.