NORFOLK -- Senior Chief Eric Lamon Jordan III worked with the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 for more than a decade, was known for his integrity after nearly 30 years of service, and was just a few months away from retirement in late 2016.
But a night of drinking at his Virginia Beach home, an accusation of sexual assault and a subsequent Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation changed everything for him and the woman who said Jordan had sex with her while she was passed out in his spare bedroom.
Jordan was charged by the military with multiple counts of sexual assault, lying to an NCIS agent and assault consummated by battery. He was prohibited from leaving the military while his case worked its way through the legal process.
That process ended in a general court-martial at Naval Station Norfolk earlier this week when he pleaded guilty to making a false official statement about having sex with the woman, and to assault by battery for putting his hands on her body and taking her pants off. Prosecutors withdrew the sexual assault charges against Jordan without prejudice, meaning they could pursue them in the future. The plea was negotiated in a pre-trial agreement.
While Jordan faced the possibility of prison for the crimes he pleaded guilty to and a reduction in rank to E-1, a military judge sentenced him to a reduction in rank to E-6, a petty officer 1st class. As a senior chief gunner's mate, his rank had been E-8.
Jordan had been assigned to the Virginia Beach-based Naval Special Warfare Development Group since 2006, and his duties included running forward operating bases in undisclosed locations around the world to support Navy SEALs and others. He also was assigned to the command known as DEVGRU, or SEAL Team 6, from 1998 to 2004.
The case offers a window into the scores of sexual assault cases the Navy handles every year. The victim was another sailor Jordan had known for years who looked up to him. Both had been drinking at his home while they watched a football game with others.
The woman said she woke up with her pants off, the bed's fitted sheet had been removed and that there was blood on the mattress itself. When she used the bathroom, she also found a tampon had improperly been put in her even though she wasn't menstruating. She didn't have any memories of what happened in the bedroom.
The Virginian-Pilot does not identify victims who say they were sexually assaulted.
Jordan said he helped the woman to the bed in his spare room after he heard her fall in the restroom and that she asked him to lay next to her. He said while he had long known the woman, there was no flirtation or prior physical attraction. During a sentencing hearing, Jordan acknowledged that he didn't have consent to take off her pants.
The woman said the next day she "felt like death" and that it was as if she "had been hit by a truck." When she was given a pelvic examination by a medical professional, she was told she had a tear and a urinary tract infection.
An NCIS agent got Jordan to confirm to the woman over the phone that he had sex with her and that it felt like a "punch in the throat" when she heard that. Jordan said he lied to NCIS about having sex with the woman because he was only a few months away from retiring.
The woman's friends testified during the sentencing hearing that she was physically shaken about what happened, became withdrawn after that night and became agitated quicker than she used to. They said that has recently improved, and the woman reiterated what she told the NCIS agent, that she wasn't going to let that night define her.
During the sentencing hearing, Jordan had witnesses that testified to a remarkable career in which he displayed honesty and integrity. Master Chief Karl Parsons, command master chief of Carrier Air Wing 8, noted that when Jordan was a master-at-arms earlier in his career, the two knew each other and were friends. But he said Jordan didn't let that friendship get in the way of arresting him when Jordan got in a fight with some Marines.
"I trust him with my life and the lives of my wife and children," Parsons said.
This article is written by Brock Vergakis from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.