The USS Laboon arrives at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk on Friday, July 20, 2018.
The USS Laboon arrives at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk on Friday, July 20, 2018. (Alex Driehaus)

The Navy has charged a sailor with touching three of his sleeping shipmates’ genitalia aboard the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Laboon while it was deployed in 2017 and 2018.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyrick Lee is scheduled to appear at a general court-martial on Monday at Naval Station Norfolk, where he faces three counts of abusive sexual contact.

Military charge sheets accuse Lee of inappropriately touching his male shipmates through their clothing while they were asleep in April 2017, February 2018 and June 2018.

The Laboon was deployed to Europe and the Middle East at the time and drew international attention when it fired seven missiles into Syria as part of a coordinated attack against facilities that supported the nation’s chemical weapons infrastructure.

The name of each victim was redacted in charge sheets provided to The Virginian-Pilot, but Navy Region Mid-Atlantic confirmed the victims’ genders.

This case is rare because the overwhelming majority of victims of unwanted sexual contact in the military are women, according to Defense Department figures. Less than 1 percent of active-duty male personnel reported some form of sexual assault in the previous year, compared with 6.2 percent of women.

The same Defense Department survey indicated that sexual assault in the military occurs most often between junior enlisted acquaintances who are peers or near peers in rank, and who work, train or live in close proximity. Only about one in three service members ever reports a sexual assault to the Defense Department, and only about 17 percent of men do, surveys show.

While the charge sheets do not specify where aboard the Laboon the inappropriate touching occurred, enlisted male sailors share berthing, and their only privacy is a small curtain alongside the racks they sleep on.

The Navy highlighted Lee’s work on the ship in photographs during that deployment. The pictures showed him conducting repair and maintenance work.

The Laboon returned to Norfolk on July 23, 2018. Lee is an interior communications electrician who is now assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

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