Three submariners face charges in sexual assault of 12-year-old girl

Groton - Three Navy sailors surrendered to police Monday on charges stemming from the alleged sexual assault of 12-year-old girl on July 4, 2009.

The three men, Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Gabriel Dominguez, 21, of Manteca, Calif., Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Benjamin Boyter, 22, of Woodruff, S.C., and Machinist's Mate 1st Class Keith Douglass, 23, of Schoolcraft, Mich., are assigned to the USS Philadelphia, a submarine that returned to port in February.

Dominguez is charged with aggravated first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child, according to Groton City police. Boyter and Douglass are charged with risk of injury to a child.

The men were arraigned Monday in New London and had their cases moved from GA 10 to Part A court, where more serious cases are heard. They are due to return to court on April 28, when they are expected to enter pleas.

Court records show Dominguez is being held on $150,000 cash bond. Boyter and Woodruff were released from custody Monday on $50,000 surety. Records did not indicate that any of the men are represented by attorneys.

An arrest warrant affidavit shows that the victim left her home at 11 p.m. to meet a friend, agreeing with her mother's request to return home at "a reasonable time."

The girls headed to a nearby cookout, where they met Dominguez, Boyter and Douglass.

Dominguez allegedly offered the girls alcohol and engaged in sexual activity with the victim in a parked pick-up truck. In separate instances later that night, Douglass and Boyter had inappropriate contact with the victim, the warrant alleged.

A police investigation began on July 16, and on July 21 the Groton City Police Department contacted the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which worked over the next few months to determine who was at the party. In September, the victim identified the alleged suspects in a photographic lineup.

When the USS Philadelphia returned to port on Feb. 3, Groton Police and NCIS officials questioned Dominguez, who said he did have sex with the victim, but said he thought she was between the ages of 17 and 20, according to the warrant.

The three sailors remain on active duty while the investigation continues, said Lt. Patrick Evans, the public information officer for Submarine Group 2 at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

"The Navy holds our sailors to a high standard of conduct," Evans said in a statement to The Day. "When any sailor is accused of engaging in criminal activity, the Navy reserves the option to conduct a separate investigation and has various punitive and non-punitive avenues to hold sailors accountable for their actions."

m.collette@theday.com

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