Report of Sexual Assault as US Navy Carrier Departs Split

By 9 November 2022
USS George H.W. Bush Arrives in Split
USS George H.W. Bush Arrives in Split DVIDS

November 9, 2022 - As the USS George H.W. Bush carrier departs Split, the news of a sexual assault on Croatian soil emerges.

Last weekend, while the carrier was staying in the port of Split, it is reported that a group of officers rented a house with a swimming pool and sauna in the Marina area near Trogir. As Slobodna Dalmacija writes, the young sailors were having fun, and upon returning to the carrier, one of the female 20-year-old sailors reported to her superior officer that she had been raped at that party.

Slobodna Dalmacija learned that, according to the victim's story, the sexual assault took place in the sauna. She was there at the time with one other female and one male sailor, and one of them pushed his fingers into the victim's genitals without her consent. 

The US navy investigators immediately launched an investigation, and they requested assistance from the Split police on Sunday, November 6. They asked for their help with conducting an investigation at the scene, taking any potential video surveillance footage, and talking to the owner of the house. A day later, the carrier set sail from Split in an unknown direction, and on it were both the victim and the possible perpetrator. American soldiers and sailors are "untouchable" in Croatia as far as their criminal responsibility is concerned since 2008, when the Croatian Parliament made an exception for the US armed forces in Croatia.

One of the examples of similar instance dates back to 2006, when a 20-year-old drunk pilot from the aircraft carrier "USS Enterprise" broke into the house of a 85-year-old woman from Split in Bačvice, grabbed her while she was sleeping, threw her to the ground and abused her until two of her neighbors came to the rescue. The American navy police arrived at the scene of the incident and arrested the pilot, taking him to the ship for detention. He was allegedly later given a dishonourable discharge, but he was not held accountable in Croatia, where he reportedly committed the crime.