Trial ordered for Navy officer accused of sexually assaulting subordinant
SAN DIEGO — A former U.S. Navy commander accused of sexually assaulting a colleague at her Valencia Park home must stand trial on five charges, including assault with intent to commit rape during a burglary, a judge ruled Thursday.
John Michael Neuhart II, 39, faces life in prison if convicted.
The 30-year-old alleged victim testified that she worked as a helicopter squadron flight instructor under Neuhart in Guam before being transferred to Coronado last Sept. 1.
The night of Sept. 11, the woman said she went to a concert with some friends and then used the ride-hailing service Uber to meet up with another friend at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego.
The alleged victim said her friend told her that Neuhart was in town with members of the squadron, and they went up to his room for drinks with others. The group later moved to the hotel bar, and she and Neuhart were there together, according to her testimony.
The woman testified that she has no memory of leaving the bar and next remembers pushing Neuhart out of her front door at 3 a.m. on Sept. 12.
“He had pulled my pants off,” she testified. “I told him to get the (expletive) out of my house.”
Once Neuhart was outside, the woman said she locked the front door, but then heard her side gate opening. Neuhart pounded on her back door and said, “I want you! I’ve always wanted you!,” she said.
The woman said she responded, “Do you really want a girl who doesn’t want you? Go home!”
She said Neuhart told her to get a condom and put her pit bull dog away, then pulled the doors open and pushed her against her kitchen counter and the stove.
She said she threw out an elbow and told him to stop, but he forced her to the couch and told her to take his pants off, which she refused to do.
The woman said her dog started biting and pulling on Neuhart’s leg, and she pulled the animal away.
She said a neighbor yelled to her from outside, asking her if she was OK, and she said no and ran out the front door.
The neighbor called 911, and police tracked Neuhart down after he ran from the house, according to testimony.
Judge Kenneth So ruled that enough evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing to order Neuhart to proceed to trial.
Neuhart, a married Iraq War veteran, was in San Diego for training at the time of the alleged crime, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tag.
The defendant, who was relieved as commander of the squadron after his arrest, will be back in court Jan. 25 for arraignment.