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Coast Guard captain says affairs were not criminal

Hearing ends; final determination could take months to make

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Capt. Herbert "Mark" Hamilton committed no crime while having extramarital relationships with multiple women, his lawyers said at the end of a three-day military investigative hearing.

Navy Lt. Tim Bergstrom argued in summary comments Thursday that Hamilton never used his position of power to advance the women's careers, nor did his affairs with them affect his work as a senior officer in a leadership position. He added that the captain's affairs were consensual and conducted in private.

"The specific acts alleged in this case are not intrinsically indecent," he said. "They are consistent with a sexual relationship going on between the individuals."

Hamilton, 48, did not speaking during the hearing at Fort Richardson. Coast Guard Capt. Steven Andersen, the investigating officer presiding over the hearing, will look into the allegations and recommend how the case should proceed. Possibilities include trying those or other charges at a general court-martial or dropping the charges.

The final determination, which could take months, will be made by Rear Admiral Christopher Colvin, district commander.

Hamilton is charged with 30 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military charging documents state that Hamilton used a government cell phone to send and receive sexual and amorous text messages, committed sodomy with some of the women, downloaded and stored sexually explicit material on his government-issued laptop, and photographed sexual acts.

Hamilton also is accused of fraud, adultery, indecent language and soliciting another to commit an offense. The alleged offenses cover a period between November 2004 and shortly before Hamilton was relieved of his duties in May.

"This case is not about love, and it's not about sex," government counsel Lt. Cmdr. Bill Dwyer said in summing up his case. "It's about careers. ... It's about abuse of power."

Hamilton's last job before the investigation started was as commander of Sector Anchorage, overseeing about 200 Coast Guardsmen in western Alaska.

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