Gay Porn Allowed as Evidence in Navy Trial

Gay Porn Allowed as Evidence in Navy Trial
Q Boyer
WASHINGTON — A military judge has ruled that gay adult content on a Navy physician’s personal computer can be used as evidence against him to support charges that he secretly recorded midshipmen from the Naval Academy having sex at his home in Annapolis.

The decision underscores how materials downloaded for a user’s personal entertainment purposes can be used as evidence against a suspect — if the court deems those materials sufficiently relevant to some element of the alleged crime.

In the case at hand, Cmdr. Kevin Ronan has been charged with seven counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, three counts of illegal wiretapping and one count of obstruction of justice, all stemming from his alleged secret videotaping of Naval Academy students Ronan hosted in his home under a program established by the academy.

Prosecutors argued that the erotic materials establish a motive for Ronan’s alleged surreptitious recording of the midshipmen, while the defense asserted that allowing the material would be severely prejudicial.

“The effect of this is going to be to suggest, ‘This is a bad person, he’s got homosexual tendencies, and we certainly don’t want him in the Navy,’” William Ferris, Ronan's civilian attorney, said during a hearing in Washington, according to the Associated Press.

Ferris cited controversial comments made by Gen. Peter Pace as evidence of a “strong prejudice against homosexuals in the military.” Pace, until recently the country’s top ranking uniformed officer, recently said that he believed homosexuality is “immoral.”

Marine Col. Steven Day, the judge in Ronan’s case, conceded that allowing the evidence could be harmful to the defense, but concurred with the prosecution that the justification for allowing the evidence should outweigh the potential for prejudice. Day added that he would deter such bias through his jury instructions and by careful screening of jurors.

Day held that the content on Ronan’s computer could be used to prove motive, demonstrating a “possible need on his part” to watch “young, athletic males” engaged in sexual activity.

Ronan, who took the stand briefly at the hearing, denied any knowledge of the content on his computer, and said that he didn’t know how the images and video got there. Ronan observed that at one point there were approximately a dozen midshipmen staying at his house with regularity, and Ferris asserted that any of these men could have downloaded the content in question.

Day ruled that the evidence was admissible in part because the content was found in a file labeled “lectures” on the computer seized from Ronan’s home; the same word was used on a label on a DVD removed from Ronan’s home that allegedly shows one midshipman engaged in sex with his girlfriend, and another masturbating. Handwriting analysis of the disc’s label, Day said, indicated that the word “lectures” had been written by Ronan.

According to Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that provides assistance to homosexual members of the military, the content from Ronan’s computer could be sufficient basis for the Navy to initiate an investigation into his sexual orientation. Hence, even if the jury in the criminal case acquits Ronan, his career in the Navy may well be terminated due to the gay erotica that allegedly was found on his computer.