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Attorney: Navy officer never told to stop videos

/ Source: The Associated Press

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.

"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."

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.

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.