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Navy investigates woman’s allegation that recruiter broke into her San Diego home

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)

A San Diego Navy recruiter was removed from that duty in November after a woman accused him of breaking into her house and refusing to leave until she gave him a hug, according to court testimony from the Navy man and the victim.

After a San Diego police investigation, the City Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes misdemeanors, declined to pursue charges of trespassing and battery against Chief Petty Officer Nakari McWhorter, according to the City Attorney’s Office and the investigator’s report.

McWhorter remained on recruiting duty at the Mira Mesa recruiting station for more than three weeks after his chain of command was notified of the accusations, said Tarrina Russel, a Navy Recruiting Command spokeswoman. He is under investigation by the Navy and still has “some” contact with potential recruits Russell said in an email.

“While he does still have some contact with applicants, these duties have been carefully chosen so that, if it is later determined that the allegations against Chief McWhorter are substantiated, his duties during this time will not raise additional concerns of inappropriate behavior,” Russell said.

The alleged victim, retired Navy veteran Diane Porter, told the Union-Tribune that the decision in March by the city not to prosecute McWhorter felt like “a slap in the face” and is an example of why women are hesitant to report such crimes.

Sandy Duchac, the vice president of Veteran Sisters, a non-profit that advocates for military sexual trauma survivors, said she doesn’t think McWhorter should have stayed in his job after the Navy learned of the accusation or have any contact with potential recruits.

“The fact is this man is a Navy chief and he’s on special duty as a recruiter — he’s supposed to be a shining example of what a sailor is,” Duchac, who is also a Navy veteran, said in an interview. “To leave him in a position of public trust after he admitted to breaking into a woman’s home and assaulting her sends a message to sailors that there’s no accountability, that you’re not going to get in trouble if you’ve got enough rank.”

Duchac is the former spokeswoman for Naval Base Coronado and a personal friend of the victim. She said cases such as McWhorter’s warrant media scrutiny.

“Without media interest the Navy will never do anything,” she said.

In an April 16 email, Navy Recruiting Command declined to comment on the investigation.

“The Navy takes every allegation of misconduct very seriously and is cooperating with local law enforcement in their investigation,” Russell said.

McWhorter denied the allegations in a written statement to the judge and during court questioning at a domestic violence restraining order hearing in April. His attorney said the credibility of both McWhorter and Porter were essential to his client not being charged criminally.

“The City Attorney’s decision not to file even misdemeanor criminal charges against Mr. McWhorter confirms our position all along, that the allegations made should not and could not withstand the levels of proof required for criminal prosecution,” David Shapiro, McWhorter’s lawyer, said in an email.

Porter and McWhorter had three dates during the summer and had sex twice, she said, but had not seen one another since — until the night of Oct. 9.

Porter, a retired Navy sailor, was home alone asleep that night when she awoke to the sound of a man opening her bedroom door, she told the Union-Tribune in an interview. Startled, she recognized him. Porter and McWhorter previously saw each other on three occasions during the summer, both said during a court hearing April 8.

The two had exchanged flirtatious texts and Facebook messages in the days leading up to Oct. 9 trying to arrange a time to get together, according to their court testimony. Porter said she went to bed and did not know McWhorter was coming over.

When he arrived sometime after 10 p.m. he was drunk, she said. He would not leave and Porter said she didn’t know how he got in. Her front door was locked with a chain restraint in place, she said. However, she noticed a screen from a living room window had been removed, which is how she said McWhorter got in.

While in Porter’s home, she said, McWhorter groped her butt and tried to get physical with her. He had condoms in his pocket, she said.

It took Porter about 15 minutes to convince McWhorter to leave. Stunned, she said she then went back to bed. She woke up the next morning to texts from McWhorter apologizing for what had happened the night before. That night, after talking with Duchec, Porter filed a police report.

On Oct. 12, she told McWhorter’s chain of command about what happened. McWhorter was pulled off of recruiting duty 23 days later, on Nov. 3, the Navy said.

Porter was given a temporary domestic violence restraining order against McWhorter after reporting the incident. At an evidentiary hearing in San Diego April 8 to determine whether to extend the restraining order, both Porter and McWhorter testified about the events of April 9 in front of San Diego Superior Court Judge Lisa Rodriguez.

McWhorter, who is married, told the judge he had only gone to Porter’s home to break up with her because he’d reconciled with his wife. He said that when he arrived that night the front door was open and Porter told him to come in.

In his statement to the police investigator, McWhorter said he thinks Porter is getting back at him for breaking up with her that night.

However, in his texts to Porter the next day, McWhorter’s tone was apologetic.

“I’m so sorry, there is no excuse for my actions last night,” he wrote. “I wanted to see you so bad and I thought you wanted the same.”

In her ruling, Rodriguez ruled in favor of Porter, saying McWhorter’s account was “not credible.”

Rodriguez cited sexually provocative texts McWhorter sent Porter in the days leading up to the encounter and said they discredited his claim he was going over to break up with her.

“The version of events proposed by Mr. McWhorter do not make any sense in light of all the text messages,” Rodriguez said from the bench. “There may have been some confusion by the parties as to whether or not there was an agreement to meet up that evening.”

Rodriguez said she believed McWhorter entered Porter’s home through the window.

“He did not have the right to go in through the window,” she said. “He did not have the right to go into that home and to touch Ms. Porter. And, frankly, his text messages apologizing for the conduct make it very clear he understood — at least initially — that that conduct was inappropriate.”

Rodriguez’ ruling did not affect the city attorney’s decision not to pursue charges against the chief, a spokeswoman said.

“Restraining-order hearings have a lower standard of proof,” said Hilary Nemchik, a spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott. “That ruling does not impact our determination, but we are glad Ms. Porter was able to secure a restraining order.”

Porter says the military justice system is her last shot at justice for an event that’s left her scared to be home alone.

“It’s like a slap in the face that you could have him admit it and it’s still not enough,” she said. “The only way we’re gonna stop this is to call it out immediately when it happens and hold them accountable.”

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