The United States military may be living in the 19th (or is it the 18th?) century when it comes to sexual politics, but at least one military judge has gone on the record acknowledging the "need" that some of our men in uniform have for "young, athletic males."
Yes, it's an Aaron Spelling'esque military tale of videotaping midshipmen in the throes of sex . . . hiding secret stashes of pornography . . . and playing 'hostess' to those in 'need.'
It is the case of Commander Kevin Ronan, a Navy physician who is on trial for allegedly secretly videotaping (heterosexual) Naval Academy midshipmen - who he was hosting in his home - in compromising positions and then storing the evidence on a DVD marked 'lectures.' And while the videotaping is enough to get Ronan in some seriously hot water with the armed forces (where the only secret surveillance allowed is done with the permission of the president), it is what investigators dug up on his computer - a stash of commercial gay pornography - that has the Commander - and his attorney - crying foul.
Join us, after the jump, as we look at the military's newest installment of Sex, Lies & Videotape.
It seems that, while investigating charges about Commander Ronan's extra-curricular film school activities, military investigators found that the Commander has a penchant for porn of the same-sex sort. This came on the heels of a premiere screening, of sorts, of Ronan's own camcorder handywork, which reportedly focuses almost exclusively on the male 'actors' in his production.
Ronan's defense attorneys objected, correctly pointing out that it is questionable to allow evidence into a criminal hearing that is not directly related to the charge at hand. (The commercial pornography, as a legal matter, has nothing to do with the illegal videotaping charge that Ronan faces.) The judge, however, dismissed the defense's argument, allowing the films to be admitted into evidence.
Marine Col. Steven Day, the judge in the case, ruled that the films could show "possible need on [Ronan's] part" to view "young, athletic males" engaged in sexual activity, according to today's Baltimore Sun.
To paraphrase that infamous line, the judge may not be able to define a need, but he knows it when he sees it. And so, in what may be a first, a sitting judge has declared a legally recognized "need" to view "young, athletic males" in situations far outside the guise of the Fall issue of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.
But in doing so, did the military move one step forward, or two steps back?
As Ronan's defense attorneys pointed out, submission of the Commander's personal porn pagoda will likely mean the initiation of a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" investigation . . . and introduce a possible element of bias into the trial.
"Defense attorneys for Ronan, who hosted midshipmen in his home as part of a Naval Academy program, had fought to keep the evidence out of his trial, saying prosecutors couldn't prove he was the one who downloaded the material and that the suggestion he might be gay would turn the jury against him," the Sun reported.
Of course, that whole 'videotaping people having sex without their permission' thing shouldn't be a cause for concern among potential jurors. It's just the gay porn that will upset them to the point of conviction. Ronan's attorneys are, in fact, so alarmed about anti-gay prejudice in the potential juror pool that they're convinced the mere suggestion that their client is gay will mean the end of any defense for him.
But wait, there's more! Just to make things even more interesting, there's a potential 'porn star witness' waiting in the wings.
A forensic computer analyst who testified at the hearing said that, "Ronan appeared to be a member of a Yahoo Group celebrating the career of Brent Everett, a gay porn star. Prosecutors displayed an e-mail to what [was] identified as Ronan's account that showed a payment to an Everett Web site."
"On the stand," the Sun reported this morning, "Ronan denied making the payment and said his identity had been stolen and several unauthorized purchases had been made during the time this evidence surfaced."
Somebody call the B-list Hollywood agents: This trial may well be the thing that Lifetime movies of the week are made of.
In the meantime, however, Ronan faces seven counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, three counts of illegal wiretapping and one count of obstruction of justice. . . . along with one judicially recognized "need" for "young, athletic males."
And it all started, it seems, with a little sex, a few white lies and some hotly contested videotape.