The San Diego County District Attorney's office has filed new charges against a U.S. Navy Commander accused of attempting to rape a colleague.
Former Commander John M. Neuhart II, 39, now relieved of duty, arrived in court on crutches, carrying a rosary, as his well-known attorney Kerry Armstrong entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Neuhart arrested last week by San Diego Police (SDPD) patrol officers. He was formally charged Monday on charges of attempted forced rape, assault with intent to rape, hot prowl burglary and resisting arrest. Neuhart is out on bail.
"A hot prowl residential burglary just means essentially - a person entered in this case is a residence with the intent to commit a specified offense here it would be rape," said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tag.
The former commander is married and has worked in the military for more than 15 years, officials revealed in court.
Neuhart is the commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, based at Anderson Air Force Base on Guam. He was relieved of duty Monday morning.
"The decision to relieve was based on actions taken by Cmdr. Neuhart that demonstrated a lack of good judgment and professionalism, calling into question his leadership and undermining his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command," a statement from the U.S. Navy read.
The incident took place Monday, Sept. 12, when San Diego police responded to a call of a sexual assault occurring in the city's Valencia Park neighborhood, SDPD Sex Crimes Lt. Paul Phillips said.
Neuhart and the victim, both members of the Navy, met at a hotel downtown when the victim, with a group of friends, recognized Neuhart, according to Phillips. The group talked for a while until the victim left the bar to go home, with Neuhart going as well.
Neuhart allegedly followed the victim into her house, at which point he allegedly attempted to rape her.
"The suspect immediately became forceful with her and attempted to sexually assault her," Phillips said.
The victim fought the suspect off and screamed loudly, Phillips said. A neighbor heard the screams and ran to the front of the house to ask if the victim was okay. When she answered no, the neighbor called 911 and said through the window that the police were on the way.
Neuhart apparently heard the remark, Phillips said, and escaped through the back door.
The neighbor flagged down police when they arrived and pointed out Neuhart, who was running down the street and into a nearby canyon.
Officers apprehended Neuhart in the canyon and took him into custody.
Though both the victim and defendant are members of the U.S. Navy, the Deputy DA Tag explained why they are not being tried in military court.
"The defendant and the victim are both members of the U.S. Navy; where this occurred was in the jurisdiction of the San Diego Police Department and San Diego Police Department responded, so what happens in those situations is that San Diego Police Department and state court would have initial jurisdiction," Tag said.
According to a website for the Navy, Neuhart joined the "Warhawks" of Fleet Replacement Squadron, HS-10 in San Diego in 2002. Since then, he was deployed aboard USS Harry S. Truman, and served as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) at the Seahawk Weapons School "Seawolf" in Fallon, Nevada.
The Navy Times reports Neuhart was in San Diego for a conference.