03/11/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
“Eric Massa is a very sick man.” That statement could be the understatement of the political cycle. Former Representative Massa has been implicated of not only inappropriate behavior with his Congressional staff, but also with his own Naval comrades. Some of the inappropriate behavior not only amounted to harassment, but bordered on sexual assault. In one case, Massa apparently unzipped a fellow sailor’s pants in an attempt to perform a sexual act called “snorkeling.” This was done without the sailor’s consent as the man was asleep at the time.
According to Peter Clarke, as reported by Joshua Green, Massa was well known for making unwanted advances on his subordinates. Stuart Borsch also reported that he was groped by Massa. At the time, Massa was a Lieutenant Commander and Borsch was a Lieutenant. According to Borsch, who is now a History professor at Assumption College in Massachusetts, “In 1990, aboard the U.S.S. Jouett, I was awakened when a senior officer, Lt. Commander Massa, seemed to be groping me. (I was a lieutenant at the time.) I believe he may have been drinking. I shouted at him and he left. I mentioned the incident to several other officers. I did not officially report it.”
According to Clarke, Massa’s roommate Tom Maxfield was also assaulted. Tom lived on upper bunk. When you’re on ship, you’re almost exhausted 24-7. So a lot of times you sleep with your uniform on. Tom and Massa shared a stateroom together. Massa climbed up on the top of his bunk, which is hard to do–you never crawl up on somebody else’s bunk. He wakes up to Massa undoing his pants trying to snorkel him.”
Unfortunately, much of this behavior went unreported by the victims, at least within the military. Probable reasons include the fact that Eric Massa was expected to rise through the ranks to admiral, and that he was the superior officer of many of the people he victimized. There was a certain fear of retaliation among those who Massa assaulted; however, they were not surprised to find out about the current slate of allegations regarding him.
Unfortunately, because of the law known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, some may have been reluctant to come forward due to suspicion falling upon them with regards to questions as to their own sexuality. Anecdotal evidence has been whispered in the past of soldiers and sailors who will assault members of their own sex because the law makes it less likely that they will be willing to report the assault. How much the law played in preventing Massa’s victims from coming forward is difficult to tell as many probably still have not come forward and many may never come forward.
Last night, both Bill Maher and Jon Stewart weighed in on the whole controversy. Their clips follow.
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