updated 1/31/2011 6:11:55 PM ET 2011-01-31T23:11:55

An officer fired from command of his aircraft carrier for broadcasting raunchy videos to thousands of sailors was never ordered to stop, the officer's attorney said Monday, disputing the Navy's claim that it put an end to the "inappropriate content."

At least five then-senior officers to Capt. Owen Honors were aware of his video productions when he was the No. 2 in command on the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise several years ago, attorney Charles W. Gittins told The Associated Press. Those officers are now admirals.

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"I'm confident if somebody said stop, he would have stopped," Gittins said.

In a statement to The Virginian-Pilot shortly after the videos surfaced, however, the Navy said it had ended the videos with "inappropriate content" on the Enterprise several years ago.

"It is unfortunate that copies of these videos remained accessible to crewmembers, especially after leadership took action approximately four years ago to ensure any future videos reflected the proper tone," the Navy said then.

Honors lost his command of the Enterprise on Jan. 4 as the Navy launched an investigation into the videos broadcast in 2006 and 2007. They included gay slurs, sailors in suggestive shower scenes and simulated masturbation.

Honors was relieved of the Enterprise command, which deployed Jan. 13, for a "profound lack of good judgment and professionalism." He is now assigned to a desk job at Naval Station Norfolk.

Also, The Navy Times reported Sunday that Honors told investigators the sexually suggestive videos were made with the "tacit approval of senior Navy leadership."

In a 15-page statement, Honors wrote to Navy investigators that he was "neither formally counseled nor told to stop producing the videos."

Story: New Navy ship commander: No raunchy videos to boost morale

Gittins confirmed the Honors' statement, but said he did not leak it.

The Navy declined Monday to confirm what Honors told investigators. Regarding the investigation, Cmdr. Chris Sims of U.S. Fleet Forces Command said the Navy is "going to look at all aspects of the production of the video ... and who did or did not do anything in response."

Honors, 49, has not responded to several e-mails from The Associated Press. Attempts to reach him by phone have been unsuccessful, and no one answered the door when an AP reporter visited Honors' home earlier this month.

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Honors plans to remain in the Navy and believes he did nothing wrong, his attorney said. Gittins also defended the content of the videos — called "XO Movie Night" — stating they were primarily intended to increase morale of sailors who were deployed for months on the Navy's oldest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The videos, a compilation of his weekly broadcasts on the Enterprise, should be viewed in the context of the times and the intended audience of primarily young sailors, the attorney said.

"Five years ago homosexual jokes were not a big deal," Gittins said. "I don't think anyone was offended."

Many sailors aboard the ship at the time have defended Honors in thousands of Facebook postings and in phone calls and e-mail to the AP. They said the offending portions of the videos represented a fraction of his weekly morale-boosting instructionals and provided comic relief during a long, grueling deployment in support of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Timeline: Military scandals

Video: Man overboard: Navy officer fired over lewd videos

  1. Transcript of: Man overboard: Navy officer fired over lewd videos

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We return now to the story that started off our broadcast last night. We reported that the captain of an aircraft carrier in the US Navy had been temporarily relieved of his command because of those onboard ship videos that have surfaced that the Navy is not happy about. Well, tonight temporary has become permanent. Our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski with us again tonight with an update on this story. Jim , good evening.

    JIM MIKLASZEWSKI reporting: Good evening, Brian . By all accounts Captain Owen Honors was still a rising star in the Navy , but only three days after the public release of those controversial videos, it all came crashing down today. After a 28 year Navy career, Captain Owen Honors was informed only minutes before the Navy announced he was relieved of his command of the USS Enterprise . In a punishing public statement, Admiral John Harvey said he had lost confidence in Honors ' ability to lead.

    Admiral JOHN HARVEY (United States Fleet Forces Commander): His profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer in Enterprise calls into question his character and undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command.

    Captain OWEN HONORS: There's a really good chance you're going to be offended tonight.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: It was this series of salacious videos, containing simulated sex acts and gay bashing shot aboard the Enterprise four to five years ago, that brought Captain Honors down.

    Adm. HARVEY: He is being held accountable for the poor judgment and inappropriate actions repeatedly demonstrated in those videos.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: Honors was replaced immediately by Captain Dee Mewbourne , who will now command the Enterprise on its upcoming mission to the war in Afghanistan in a couple of weeks. Despite today's firing, thousands of Honors ' supporters are lighting up Facebook , many of them many sailors who say videos like those produced by Honors offer a much needed break from the wars. But Navy officers, past and present, say the issue here is all about judgment than leadership.

    Rear Admiral STEPHEN PIETROPAOLI, Retired, (United States Navy): It's not about being the crew's pal. It is about motivating the crew. This Ex. O. clearly has a great sense of humor. There's folks that are going to relate to that. But his principle job is not to be the ship's comedian, it's to be the ship's executive officer.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: The Navy 's investigation does not stop here. Investigators now want to know why Honors ' senior commanders, who knew about these videos four years ago, didn't take formal disciplinary action against him at the time. Instead, Honors was eventually promoted to the ship's commander. Now, Captain Honors has been temporarily assigned to a desk job pending the outcome of the Navy 's investigation, but Navy officials predict that today's action marks the beginning of the end to an otherwise stellar career. Brian :

    WILLIAMS: All right, Jim , thanks. Jim Miklaszewski with our update from the Pentagon tonight.


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