Five U.S. sailors are facing courts-martial and an officer remains under investigation for alleged sex crimes and other misconduct in Bahrain, a country working to combat forced prostitution and human trafficking.
Three chief petty officers and a petty officer second class have been charged with various crimes that allegedly occurred between July and October 2017, according to charge sheets obtained by Military.com. A fifth enlisted sailor, a petty officer third class, has also been charged with crimes and faces a court-martial, but his charge sheet was not immediately made available.
Most of the charges were first reported by Navy Times on Wednesday. Each was the subject of a separate probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, said Cmdr. Josh Frey, a spokesman for Naval Forces Central Command.
"The Navy is unable to comment on the details while the investigation is ongoing," Frey added.
Chief Operations Specialist Jayson Waitman Grant is accused of knowingly attempting to recruit, harbor, transport and obtain persons caused to engage in commercial sex acts by means of fraud or coercion in or near Juffair, Bahrain, in September or October 2017.
Grant allegedly also allowed third parties to rent his apartment without notifying his commanding officer, according to the charges. On Oct. 5, 2017, Grant allegedly intended to deceive an NCIS special agent by stating that he had never spoken with anyone about housing prostitutes or making money from their sexual acts, the charge sheet states.
Grant was assigned to Naval Surface Squadron 5 in Manama, Bahrain, from May 2017 to March 2018. His case has now moved into the arraignment phase, said Lt. Tim Pietrack, a spokesman for Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, the convening authority in the cases.
Chief Logistics Specialist Calvin Halfacre is charged with three counts of soliciting someone for paid sexual acts in or near Juffair, twice in July 2017 and once in September 2017. On each of those three dates, Halfacre is also accused of rape, according to the charges. It's not immediately clear whether the alleged victim was believed to be the same person on all three occasions or whether three separate victims are alleged.
Halfacre also allegedly conspired with two other sailors to obstruct justice by "endeavoring to impede an investigation," the charge sheet states.
He was assigned to Coastal Riverine Group 2 Detachment in Manama from December 2016 to January 2018. Halfacre's case has moved into the motions phase, Pietrack said.
Chief Logistics Specialist Earl Anthony McLaughlin is also accused of conspiring with two other sailors to obstruct justice by "endeavoring to impede an investigation" between September and October 2017, his charge sheet states.
McLaughlin was assigned to Navy Central Command in Manama from February 2017 to March 2018. His case has moved into the motions phase, Pietrack said.
Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Jihad Hobeson Littlejohn is charged with confiscating an unnamed person's passport, paying about $2,600 to recruit, harbor, transport and obtain persons to engage in commercial sex acts by means of fraud or coercion.
According to his charge sheet, Littlejohn also conspired with an NCIS source to recruit, harbor and transport people for sex acts, paid someone to engage in sexual acts and sold alcohol bought on base to a third party. The alleged crimes happened between June and September 2017, the charge sheet states.
Littlejohn was assigned to the coastal patrol ship Hurricane from August 2016 until March 2018. His case has moved into the motions phase, Pietrack said.
A fifth sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kenneth Olaya has been also been referred to court-martial, Pietrack said. A lieutenant commander could also be facing charges, Navy Times reported.
That case remains under investigation, said Pietrack, who declined to comment further.
Bahraini officials have struggled for years to combat human trafficking in the country. Bahrain is a common destination for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, according to a State Department report.
Migrant workers and unskilled laborers are particularly vulnerable to the crimes.
The Navy has taken steps to make sailors and officers deploying there aware of the problems through training on combating human trafficking, commander's calls and ethics and character development training, Frey said.
"The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of this issue, reinforce Navy core values, and promote bystander intervention by encouraging Sailors to speak up when wrongdoing or destructive behaviors are occurring," he said. "The campaign also includes ongoing law enforcement and investigative measures to identify and appropriately address any further activity discovered."