Two Navy SEAL leaders were relieved of their duties Monday following investigations into sexual misconduct accusations while they were deployed in Africa, Navy officials said Tuesday.
Cmdr. Jarrod Donaldson and Master Chief Petty Officer Jon Franklin were fired from their positions as a unit commander and a senior enlisted adviser by Capt. Jamie Sands, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, said Navy Lt. Jacqui Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach-based SEAL unit. She said both men had been reassigned to other duties within Naval Special Warfare Group Two.
Donaldson and Franklin were serving as the commander and senior enlisted SEAL for Special Operations Command Forward-East Africa when they were suspended May 10 and sent back to the United States amid misconduct accusations, Maxwell said. The men retained their leadership positions within the SEALs until Monday.
Maxwell declined to confirm the nature of the misconduct investigations. According to an ABC News report, the men were under investigation for accusations of sexual harassment and one of them was also accused of sexual assault against a female servicemember. A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed officials had investigated those claims. The official did not confirm the investigations’ findings.
Both SEALs are likely to face some form of nonjudicial punishment, the official said. Nonjudicial punishments can include reduction in rank or loss of pay. They are often the first step toward a servicemember’s separation from the service.
The Navy has eight SEAL teams, half of which are stationed at Virginia Beach. The other four are stationed at Coronado in California. The SEALs elite Special Warfare Development Group, better known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team 6, is also stationed in Virginia.
The firing of the SEALs is the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents for the SEAL community. Shortly before Donaldson and Franklin were sent back to the United States in May, the Navy announced it was kicking out 10 SEALs and another sailor assigned to a Virginia Beach special warfare unit after they tested positive for illicit drug use.
Two other SEALs were investigated as part of a murder probe in the June 2017 death of an Army Green Beret in Mali, according to Defense Department documents. That investigation remains open, according to a defense official.
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