A man of good character?

I have to wonder if Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Thomas Matthew Lee, Chaplain, was considered a man of good character—he just received a two year prison sentence after using his office for years as a base for preying on young Navy men…and he was also HIV-positive. He had his sentence reduced for his willingness to give up all of the names of his sexual partners, for their own good, I presume.

I also wonder if the Navy would be so fierce in their denunciations if he'd been using his rank and reputation to molest young women. There's also a troubling suggestion that their pursuit of the victim's names wasn't entirely virtuous.

By trying to control the story and dampen the coverage, Marine officials delayed informing the public about the case -- and Lee's partners and victims about potential health risks. The officials knew that aim was important: They were willing to reduce the fairness of the sentence to achieve it.

Had the Corps released this public information to the media, it would have bought Lee's victims more than a month to seek treatment, since the charges relating to his HIV status were preferred Nov. 1. It might not sound like much, but ask the victims whether they would like that time back. More important, ask anyone who's had sex with the victims since then.


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Quite possibly. Googling Delmar Simpson is an exercise left to the reader.

If any of Lee's victims are still serving, one assumes they'll be booted from the service under "don't ask, don;t tell".

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Had the Corps released this public information to the media, it would have bought Lee's victims more than a month to seek treatment, since the charges relating to his HIV status were preferred Nov. 1. It might not sound like much, but ask the victims whether they would like that time back. More important, ask anyone who's had sex with the victims since then.

I can't imagine how an organization legally required to discriminate against gays could possibly show such callous disregard for the wellbeing of gay soldiers and their partners.

Wait a minute. Do you supposed there's a connection there somewhere?

Wow, I gotta say, since I got here to the U.S from my little third-world South American country, I have been astounded and apalled by how retrograde American society can be. People believing the earth is only thousands of years old! That was what interested me so much in religion, and consequently, atheism. I never knew I had been an atheist for quite some time. Not even in my little 3rd-world country will you find a high-school graduate that even is interested in denying evolution, let alone trying to teach creationism, or even do teach it in some colleges. I was shocked when I learned this as soon as I got here.

And also, this nonsense about blatant discrimination (which, admittedly we do too in our little corner down there, but what do you expect, it's a little 3rd world country). Especially within government institutions. Wow. The most powerful politicians on the planet, even debating gay marriage, or that fucking Chistmas is important at all. For crying out loud!

I have also found out that there is a resistance to all this nonsense, mostly liberals and scientifically literate people. I applaud and admire you.

I'll tell you, when non-Americans say Americans are stupid, on the one hand, they're mostly referring to these retrograde individuals (and Hollywood, but they're fake people anyway), so they don't mostly know there are good people fighting this garbage (which wastes everybody's time ultimately) and on the other hand, they don't realize how stupider these Americans they have in their heads actually are. My friends over there are often dismissive (at first they were surprised) when they hear me rant so much against religion and superstition, and homophobia and discrimination since the past few years, but I guess they don't understand.

By the way, I wasn't gonna do that rant, It just came to me. I was gonna say, did you notice the webpage address?


Of all the titles possible...

Language Police here: I think what you meant to say was, "the charges relating to his HIV status were proferred ..."

Other than that, great post!

By Brachinus (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

I also wonder if the Navy would be so fierce in their denunciations if he'd been using his rank and reputation to molest young women.

Silly PZ; women aren't people: they're objects put here by the Lord Jesus Christ for our amusement.

D'oh! That should read "proffered." Two f's, one r.

By Brachinus (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Of course he was of good character. I mean, his actions don't affect the status of his character, do they?

(Health warning: excessive consumption of irony may cause brain damage.)

i'm tired of people attacking gays- from molestation to discrimination- we always get the tough side of the bargain- all we wanna do is live and be happy and people make us look bad, abuse us, and kill us, hang us in iran, burn us in nazi germany - we just wanna decorate your house :(

PZ, thanks for bringing attention to this.

As far as DADT and discharges go; at least one of his forcible sodomy victims is still on active duty. Being a rape victim is not considered "conduct." While it may not be the case in the Marines, most of the services have gone from "Don't Ask... Don't Tell" to "Don't ask... Don't Care." When I retired this summer the USAF commanders I worked with could have cared less about who was kissing who in their off time.

At least one of his victims was a cadet at the Naval Academy. Cadets are particularly vulnerable to abuses of power. This guy is a sexual predator.

For a little perspective: Michael Vick got 23 months time served abusing dogs. This schmuck is getting 24 months for abusing humans. If that's really where our society's values lie then I would like to change species.

#12, Vick's abuses also included killing dogs. Not exactly a fair comparison.

If only DADT were actually falling by the wayside. As with most things, it depends on who your boss is. CO who know how to run something & get results: probably doesn't care so long as you do your job & keep it discrete. Fundy nutjob: probably running witch hunts (a fine old military tradition).
I know a guy who just got bounced from Coast Guard BASIC under DADT (why he enlisted I'm not sure, but there it is).
As for this animal, look on the bright side, at least he didn't lock his victims in a shipping container with no food or water. That has to count for something, right?

A catholic priest abusing his position for sexual kicks? Who would have thunk it? At least they weren't minors.
Actually, that's a point, they presumably were adult, trained, killing machines...did he order them to succumb to his lustful desires? Was this an abuse of trust or an abuse of power?

On a tangent, what role does a military chaplain serve anyway? How do they gloss over the 'turn the other cheek', 'thou shalt not kill' stuff?

By Mc Atilla (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink


What the chaplain did was both a violation of his position and his rank so it was an abuse of both trust and authority. I think your understanding of how the military works is a little off - no one can order you to engage in sex; that would be an example of an unlawful order which most people in the military are aware of. The trouble comes in when he used his rank to pressure lower ranking people into having sex. That's abuse of his authority because the other person might think that if they didn't submit their careers could be effected by the senior ranking officer. Although he certainly didn't pressure the Air Force Lt Col into anything because the Air Force guy outranked him.
The reason there are chaplains in the military is they are there to tend to the "spiritual" needs of the members in uniform and chaplains aren't allowed to carry a weapon. There is a bit of debate within the miliary atheist community on the need for chaplains. For the most part chaplains are just morale boosters for believers which can make a difference in combat so that is why we have them. However, some believe that chaplains should not be officers or even in the military but non-government paid civilian volunteers.

re: #16

Like so many other "non-deployable" jobs in the military, chaplains are waiting to see if they will still have a role in tomorrow's military. The government, in its infinite wisdom, has been gradually out-sourcing those types of jobs.

The possibility that future chaplain services will be provided by civilians (whether government employees of contractors, who can say?) is very real. Whether that is a "good thing" or not remains to be seen.

The same thing is happing to many positions in the medical community.

#10 yeah, the military is full of strange usage. They're required to capitalize the word "Soldier". The official name for a shovel is an intrenching tool, but it's commonly calle an "E-tool", short for entrenching. etc.etc.

Why isn't this being prosecuted as murder? If any of his victims contracted HIV, they aren't facing twenty-four months of inconvenience ... they're facing an excruciating death sentence that could be drawn out for ten years. If this chaplain was aware of his HIV+ status, what he did was worse than sexual assault and abuse of his position of power, and those are bad enough.