Lewd, new details on why former Navy commander was fired

Explicit documents just released

SAN DIEGO - New details have emerged about why the second-in-command of a San Diego-based frigate was fired halfway through a six-month deployment.

Cmdr. James Pickens, former executive officer of the USS Gary, was fired in February for "offensive comments and behavior towards crew."

"To relieve him and get it done was definitely the right thing," said retired Rear Adm. Len Hering.

The Navy Times filed a Freedom of Information records request, and the captain's command investigation showed Pickens ignored warnings and "repeatedly bullied and humiliated various members of his crew" during his 15 months on the ship.

In one case, Pickens allegedly asked two female sailors, "Have you shaved your (expletive) hairs today?" Pickens went on, "I shaved mine."

In another incident, the report said Pickens pressed his thumb on a male officer's behind and said, "Just checking your oil."

When he caught a female officer leaning on his chair, he reportedly announced, "Sweetheart, the only way you'll be sitting in my chair is on my lap."

Herring calls the actions outrageous, adding, "The credibility of the officer corps is jeopardized, and so is the command's ability to function."

The report also said Pickens referenced pornographic movies, recounted his exploits in Thailand and called officers foul names.

"I just find it so disgusting," said retired Rear Adm. Veronica "Ronne" Froman.

As the Navy grapples with issues like sexual assault, Froman said it's the epitome of conduct unbecoming an officer.

"You're expected to be a role model and set an example for your crew and this guy was totally stupid," said Froman.

The 42-year-old Pickens was reassigned to other duties. A recommendation was recently made for him to "show cause" to a senior officer panel for why he should be allowed to stay in the service.

A replacement executive officer is expected to be assigned sometime this month.   

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