MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. — A military judge on Tuesday found a submarine sailor not guilty of distributing videos of female officers undressing for the shower, making him the first cleared of wrongdoing in the case.
The ruling came in a general court-martial for Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel Buchner, the fifth sailor charged in the videotaping scandal aboard the USS Wyoming.
The women who were secretly videotaped were among the first to serve on U.S. submarines. The case has highlighted the Navy's struggles in adding women to its sub force.
Buchner was charged with conspiring to distribute videos using his cellphone and sending the videos to another sailor. His attorney said in an earlier hearing that Buchner didn't know what he was sending.
"Buchner has asserted from the beginning that he did not know what these files were before he transferred them to another sailor," said Lt. Tracy Waller, his attorney, in a statement. "We are extremely pleased that he was exonerated today, and we hope that his withheld promotion will be restored immediately."
Buchner is the first of the sailors to not plead guilty in a case that has sent four others to prison.
Navy prosecutors say the videos were shot by another sailor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Greaves. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge after pleading guilty last month.
Three other sailors have also received prison time related to distributing the videos.
Prosecutors accused the men of trading the videos "like Pokemon" cards in exchange for energy drinks and other items.
All three women testified in previous trials, saying the ordeal had ruined or derailed their otherwise promising careers.
Buchner's defense attorney did not immediately return a request for comment on the judge's decision.