The Navy removed the ex-leader of the Blue Angels from command duties in San Diego after a complaint about alleged misconduct during his two stints with the precision squadron. / Sergio Bastidas, Imperial Valley Press/AP
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A former Blue Angels lead pilot has been found guilty by the Navy of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice in a case of sexual harassment involving the elite flight demonstration team when he commanded it for nearly four years ending in 2012.
The investigation focused on allegations that Capt. Greg McWherter allowed sexual harassment within the elite Pensacola-based flight demonstration squadron, the Navy said.
In a statement released Tuesday, Vice Adm. David Buss said that the investigation concluded that McWherter's behavior as commander of the Blue Angels was "completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any Navy squadron, let alone our elite flight demonstration team."
The investigation's finding of guilty will effectively end McWherter's Navy career, according to former Navy attorneys. Although he won't be reduced in rank, according to the Navy, nor actually forced to resign, he has received a letter of reprimand that will essentially prevent him from future promotion and erode his eligibility for choice assignments.
McWherter was fired in April from his most recent job as second in command of the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego that is home to two aircraft carriers and four units of Navy SEALs. In that job, McWherter was in line to eventually become the base commander, which would have been an important step toward his first star as a rear admiral.
Buss said he has ordered "reviews that will encompass the policies and organization" of the current Blue Angels team to "see what changes should be made and to prevent any possible future lapses in good order and discipline" within the unit.
The Navy's earlier descriptions of the investigation into McWherter detailed his alleged condoning of sexual impropriety, but the findings released Tuesday said he and others in his command "openly engaged in sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors, which he failed to correct."
Among the examples in the report: "Proliferation of explicit pornography and sexually suggestive images in the cockpit and in the 'GroupMe' intra-squadron electronic communications tool," the painting of male genitals on the roof of a trailer at the Blue Angels' winter training facilities in El Centro, Calif., and hazing of enlisted personnel.
These activities created a "hostile work environment," the report said.
Among the investigators' other findings were "sexually charged, raunchy and homophobic humor."
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Ex-Blue Angels leader guilty in sex harassment case