The Navy has included an officer imprisoned for attempting to arrange sex with a deaf child on its list of those eligible for a department head position – even though he’s currently serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison.
Lt. j.g. Michael Douglas McNeil was tapped as a potential department head for surface warfare by the Navy Personnel Command, his name one of dozens posted to the Navy’s website. When Military Times pointed out to Navy officials that the aspiring child predator was serving time in a Texas prison, they explained that information about his conviction hadn’t made it into his file when the selection board picked the names – even though he pleaded guilty in December to one count of “attempted online enticement of a minor” and was sentenced in March.
Navy officials couldn’t even definitively tell Military Times that McNeil would be removed from the promotion list – Navy Personnel Command spokeswoman Cmdr. Krin Burzynski could only state in an email on Tuesday that he would “likely” be removed when a future board “review[s] the records of all previously screened officers for any deviation from the ‘best and fully qualified’ standard.”
Selection boards only review information in an officer’s military record, and McNeil is still listed as active duty and still assigned to the guided-missile destroyer Lassen – an exemplary officer, aside from that one minor detail. Outside information – even an officer’s attempt to procure a handicapped 12-year-old for sex from a man he believed to be the girl’s uncle – is not considered. Using an alias, McNeil responded to an undercover detective’s ad describing his “adopted niece” and hinting they were “looking for family fun” on an online forum. In addition to sending sexually explicit photos of himself, McNeil asked about the child’s sexual experience, requested photos of her, and described the encounter they discussed – sex with a deaf 12-year-old – as “a fantasy of mine.”
McNeil waived his right to a Navy board of inquiry with his plea deal and will receive an “other than honorable” discharge, though his sentence notably does not include immediate dismissal from the service. When he is released in 2027, he will be required to register as a sex offender and serve five years’ probation. It’s unclear if either of those disqualifies him from future promotions.
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