Former CO at Naval Station Everett cleared of sex assault accusations

EVERETT — The former commanding officer of Naval Station Everett has been acquitted in military court of accusations that he sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend, officials said this week.

Capt. James Duke Jr. was “cleared of all wrongdoing and proven innocent in open court,” his Everett attorney Anna Goykhman said Wednesday. “I was confident we would prevail in trial and prove that he was wrongfully accused and that is exactly what happened.”

Duke won’t be returning to the Everett base, a Navy spokesman said.

Duke, now 50, was reassigned last fall to Navy Region Northwest at Naval Base Kitsap near Silverdale when the military began investigating the allegations.

Cmdr. Jeff Caulk temporarily assumed Duke’s duties in Everett.

Caulk remains the acting commanding officer, Everett base spokeswoman Kristin Ching said Wednesday.

Duke still is assigned to the base in Kitsap County, Navy spokesman Chris Haley said. His court case ended in late February. Seven Naval officers who heard the case delivered the acquittal, Haley said. It was a military criminal court-martial, somewhat similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding.

Duke was living in Lake Stevens in early 2014 when his then-girlfriend told local police that he sexually assaulted her after she turned down his request for sex. Duke said he was trying to end the relationship when the accusation came forward.

Goykhman on Wednesday said the woman’s claim was “a vicious attempt by a rejected girlfriend to harm the career and life of a most decent, honorable and impeccably honest man.”

Before the case went to military court, Lake Stevens detectives had investigated, and Snohomish County prosecutors declined to file charges.

Duke had assumed command at Naval Station Everett in July 2013. In July 2014, he was involved in an unrelated domestic disturbance with an Arlington woman near Lake Stevens. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office investigated that case but did not find evidence that a crime occurred.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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