Navy commander accused of attempted rape

Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 20:44:23-04

SAN DIEGO - The commander of a Guam-based naval helicopter squadron bailed out of San Diego Central Jail Tuesday following his arrest on suspicion of trying to rape a Navy colleague at her Valencia Park home.

Patrol officers responding to a report of an assault in progress about 3 a.m. Monday arrived to find a man running away from the alleged victim's home and into a nearby canyon, according to San Diego police.

Following a brief foot chase, officers arrested 39-year-old John Michael Neuhart, SDPD Lt. Paul Phillips said.

Neuhart, head of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, was booked on suspicion of attempted rape and assault with intent to commit rape. He was released on bail early Tuesday morning and is scheduled to arraigned Monday.

The neighbor who reported the alleged assault told investigators he'd hurried over to the woman's home after hearing screams and asked her through a window if she was all right, Phillips told reporters.

When she shouted "no," the man made a 911 call and yelled into the home that he was doing so, according to the lieutenant.

The alleged victim, who is in her 20s, told detectives she had gotten together with the suspect, a prior acquaintance, the previous evening following a chance meeting at a downtown hotel. She said they spent some time socializing there with others before going home with Neuhart.

"When they got to the residence, the suspect entered the house with the victim," the lieutenant said. "The suspect immediately became forceful with her and attempted to sexually assault her. She was able to fight him off and ... began screaming very loudly."

Neuhart, an Iraq War veteran who trained with a Coronado-based helicopter antisubmarine squadron in 2002, was in San Diego for a conference at the time of the alleged crime, according to the Navy Times.

Authorities did not release the woman's name or military rank.