What do you see when you look at this picture?

If your answer is “a brutal sexual assault,” you’re not alone.

‘We learn that George and Greta were perfect strangers. We learn that George was drunk, and that Greta had no idea of his presence, until she was in his arms, with his lips on hers… It seems pretty clear, then, what George had committed was sexual assault.”

The blog Feministing.com embraced the sexual assault premise, claiming that a closer look at the picture reveals corroborating evidence of the ‘crime’ that took place in 1945 in the middle of Times Square.

The writer points to the smirks on the faces of other sailors seen in the background; the firm grasp around the physically smaller woman in Mendonsa’s arms keeping her from escaping; the woman’s clenched first and limp body.

‘If there is a better symbol for how messed up our ideas about sex and romance are, I can’t think of one,’ the Feministing blogger writes.

Leopard writes in her blog, ‘The unwillingness to recognize a problem here is not surprising, considering the rape culture in which we live.’

‘It is not easy to assert that a woman’s body is always her own, not to be used at the whim of any man without her consent. It is far easier to turn a blind eye to the feelings of women, to claim that they should [empathize] with the man, that they should be good sports and just go along with it.’

If this kiss happened today it would be chargeable as a rape under Article 120, UCMJ (10 U.S.C. § 920):

(a) Rape. Any person subject to this chapter who commits a sexual act upon another person by—

(1) using unlawful force against that other person;
. . .
is guilty of rape and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

(g) Definitions. In this section:

(1) Sexual act. The term ‘sexual act’ means—
. . .
(B) the penetration, however slight, of the . . . mouth of another by any part of the body or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Lack of consent is not an element, intoxication is not a defense, and the maximum authorized punishment for such a rape is imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

23 Responses to “A sexual assault Rorschach”

  1. Some DC says:

    I see Sailors who are wearing both summer and winter uniforms. The area commander has lost control. 

  2. k fischer says:


    It’s too bad Greta did not have the SAPRO to advise her that she had been raped and needed to file an unrestricted report.  Good job of showing how absurd Article 120 has become.

    Here is another woman who needed the same explanation:


  3. Christopher Mathews says:

    Mostly what I see is another opportunity for CAAFlog to indulge its ongoing obsession with the criminalization of certain sexual behavior.

    However, let’s play along:  suppose that the scene repeated itself today.  What *should* we tell Greta if she complained about being grabbed by a total stranger?

  4. Dew_Process says:

    Well, let’s take this one step further, is the USNI guilty of “pandering?”

    But, if Greta complained today, an Article 32, Investigation would in all probability be commenced – in uniform, drunk in public and kissing a stranger (with a fashionably short skirt for that era!); and George would no doubt be filling out his sex offender registration forms.

  5. N says:

    I noticed the large sign in the background for “Bond.” Clearly some clever product placement for Skyfall. What were all of you looking at?

  6. k fischer says:


    I don’t know if the Sailor needs to be charged with a crime that carries LWOP as a punishment and sex offender registration.  However, change the factual scenario just a little:  Greta is your wife and you are on your honeymoon in the Big Apple.  You both are walking up Times Square when all of a sudden some drunken Sailor grabs your wife Greta and kisses her with tongue.  I think that you would most likely disregard Doug Llewelyn’s advice and take the law in your own hands.  How would you feel about George having to register as a sex offender then?

    I still doubt that this particular Sailors’ behavior, by itself, would qualify for a court martial today, however, I do believe that if Greta complained, then CID would scrub his background and attempt find a couple of other women who he kissed or groped.  Perhaps, they would show this picture to Rita, his current girlfriend, then ask her whether or not he met her the same way.  If they could get two or three victims, then George would be facing a court martial.


  7. Soonergrunt says:

    @k Fischer, 0858;
    The funny thing about that is that Rita was there for this.  She’s the blonde nurse standing in the background with the other nurses.

  8. Anonymous Air Force Senior Defense Counsel with the initial NM says:

    I see my next full acquittal. 

  9. k fischer says:


    No wonder he kissed another woman….


    I thought the same thing, but be careful.  Times have changed since then.  Besides, how are you going to get that picture in front of the panel?

  10. Anonymous Air Force Senior Defense Counsel with the initial NM says:

    I’ll move to exclude the picture.  Ask instead to introduce all her emails, text messages and facebook posts.

    So you are right… times have changed.

  11. stewie says:

    Well, if this happened today the Sailor/Soldier/Etc. involved would likely receive NJP/A15, as happens to most wrongful sexual contacts (or abusive sexual contacts) now. He certainly wouldn’t be court-martialed.

  12. Anonymous Air Force Senior Defense Counsel with the initial NM says:

    In all honesty, I wouldn’t be as critical of current Art 120 practice but for SORNA.  The idea that this Seaman would possibly have to go through lifelong sex offender registration is appalling.  The idea of a court-martial isn’t as bad, but for SORNA.

  13. stewie says:

    Again, he’d get NJP/ART 15 at worst. It is mighty rare to get a court-martial for this situation in my experience.

  14. rob klant says:

    True, unless both parties are of the same sex.   Interesting why that should be.

  15. Atticus says:

    Best way to handle the scenario is how K Fischer suggested in his hypo.  Not a court in the country that would convict someone for decking the guy, etc.  Things used to be so much easier.

  16. Damn those pesky things called rules and elements... says:

    Are we sure there are sufficient facts (even prima facie) to show intent to humiliate/degrade/etc. OR gratify/arouse the sexual desire of any person? What evidence do we have that he intended on humiliating/degrading her OR gratifying his/her/others’ desire(s)? I don’t think the picture is enough on it’s face (even with the smirking sailors, the “clenched fist”) AND, given the surrounding circumstances (VJ Day, a sailor with an unknown history/combat record/possible pending assignment to the Pacific, etc.), it is quite possible this guy briefly lost his mind and merely grabbed the first person nearest to him in exultation.

    I’d effectively kill this at a 32, yo.

  17. stewie says:

    Wouldn’t get to a 32, but if nothing else a simple assault A15 best case for the accused, worst case abusive sexual contact A15.

  18. Damn those pesky things called rules and elements... says:

    What base gives A15 for abusive sexual contact(s) of any type?? Sign me up to go there… er, um…

  19. Christopher Mathews says:

    Here’s the thing, though: if you’re saying it’d be a proper basis for NJP, you’re also necessarily saying that what’s depicted here is a criminal offense.  If George turns down his Article 15, you’d court-martial him — right?

  20. WWJD says:

    If you were a JAG that recommended/OK’d an Article 15 for forcible kissing and George turns it down, you fold your cards – George called you bluff.

  21. stewie says:

    Not necessarily no, we could chapter 14 for example, as abusive sexual contact carries 1 yr and a DD. Or, we could do a GOMOR filed in the OMPF. It is not necessarily the case that every A15 turn-down must be a court-martial. You’d have to consider the time, and effort. It ain’t personal, it’s business, so you avoid the “Oh no he didn’t turn down that A15” and you weigh whether a court-martial makes sense, and sometimes, it won’t. Other times, it will.

  22. stewie says:

    And yes, it is a criminal offense if it’s unwanted. It’s pretty much the textbook definition of simple assault consumated by a battery at best (again if unwanted).