WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A person accused of bodily assaulting a lady at a U.S. analysis station in Antarctica was then despatched to a distant icefield the place he was tasked with defending the protection of a professor and three younger graduate college students, and he remained there for a full week after a warrant for his arrest was issued, paperwork obtained by The Related Press present.
Stephen Tyler Bieneman has pleaded not responsible to misdemeanor assault over the incident final November at McMurdo Station, which his lawyer mentioned was nothing greater than “horseplay.” The case is because of go to trial Monday in Honolulu.
The Nationwide Science Basis declined to reply AP questions on why Bieneman was despatched out into the sector in a vital security function whereas underneath investigation. The case raises additional questions on decision-making within the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is already underneath scrutiny.
An AP investigation in August uncovered a sample of ladies at McMurdo who mentioned their claims of sexual harassment or assault have been minimized by their employers, typically resulting in them or others being put in additional hazard.
And on Friday, the watchdog workplace overseeing the NSF mentioned it was sending investigators to McMurdo this month because it expands its investigative mission to incorporate crimes similar to sexual assault and stalking.
Of their indictment, prosecutors say that late on Nov. 24 or early Nov. 25 final yr, a lady was sitting in a dormitory lounge ready for her laundry when Bieneman, who had been celebrating his birthday with a lot of drinks, walked in.
When he went to the toilet, the girl took his identify tag from his jacket as a prank after which refused to provide it again, working across the finish of a settee, prosecutors say.
Bieneman then took her to the ground, put her on her again and put his left shin over her throat as he rummaged by way of her pocket searching for the tag, prosecutors say. The lady desperately tried to speak she could not breathe, signaling a choking movement and tapping on his leg as a minute handed earlier than Bieneman lastly discovered the tag and eliminated his shin from her airway, in response to the indictment.
Prosecutors say the girl visited a medical clinic.
“Throughout a follow-up go to every week later, Sufferer A reported enhancements with respect to muscle tightness, nevertheless she was affected by lack of sleep and urge for food, anxiousness, and melancholy on account of the assault,” prosecutors mentioned within the indictment. ”Quickly thereafter, Sufferer A left her employment at McMurdo Station.”
Bieneman’s lawyer Birney Bervar mentioned in an August e mail to the AP that eyewitnesses did not again the girl’s story and a health care provider who examined her quickly after the incident discovered no proof of “an assault of the character and diploma she described.”
Marc Tunstall, the NSF station supervisor who can be a sworn Deputy U.S. Marshal, heard concerning the incident on Nov. 29 and started investigating, in response to prosecutors.
On Dec. 10, two weeks after the incident, Bieneman and the scientific staff flew by Twin Otter airplane to arrange camp on the distant Allan Hills icefield, greater than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from McMurdo. The staff, which research ice cores, was there to gather radar information to assist choose a web site for future ice-core drilling.
In his function as mountaineer, Bieneman was accountable for the protection of the group within the unforgiving surroundings. The person initially assigned the function had suffered from a mini-stroke two days earlier than his deployment, in response to paperwork obtained by the AP.
Bieneman, who goes by his center identify Tyler, initially labored properly with the staff organising camp.
“Nonetheless, quickly after, it turned clear that one thing was amiss with Tyler,” College of Washington Professor Howard Conway wrote on behalf of the COLDEX subject staff in a criticism to the NSF that was obtained by the AP.
Conway and the graduate college students didn’t reply to AP requests for remark.
Within the criticism, Conway described Bieneman as initially being “domineering and important” of the 2 feminine graduate college students on the camp.
“One night within the kitchen tent in the course of the first week, he instructed the graduate college students that earlier within the season in McMurdo he had a battle with a lady, throughout which he wrestled along with her, and he or she subsequently had bother respiration, and wanted medical consideration,” Conway wrote.
The professor mentioned Bieneman portrayed himself because the sufferer within the incident for being underneath scrutiny. He mentioned the graduate college students, fearing potential retaliation in the event that they disclosed the story, felt they needed to tiptoe round Bieneman.
“It was uncomfortable and anxious to be round him as a result of it was not potential to really feel bodily or emotionally secure,” Conway wrote.
Courtroom paperwork present an arrest warrant was issued for Bieneman on Dec. 12.
The professor wrote that Bieneman was lastly changed on the camp on Dec. 19. He mentioned they have been by no means instructed Bieneman was underneath investigation or given a motive for him being pulled from his task. They pieced it collectively later when the case turned public.
“We have been astounded to seek out (1) Tyler was assigned to our staff when it was already recognized that he was underneath investigation, and (2) that he remained within the subject with us for a full week after he had been charged with assault,” Conway wrote within the criticism.
The NSF mentioned the questions on Bieneman’s camp task have been a part of an lively legislation enforcement matter and must be directed to the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Hawaii. The U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Hawaii didn’t reply to a request for remark.
In accordance with courtroom data, when Bieneman returned to McMurdo after the camp, he was fired, given a airplane ticket again to the U.S. and arrested when he landed in Hawaii. He was then launched on $25,000 bail pending Monday’s trial.
AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.