MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Democratic Wisconsin congressman on Friday accused his Republican opponent of sexual harassment over a 2015 memoir in which the former Navy Seal wrote of exposing a male lieutenant’s genitals to two female junior officers while the lieutenant was being treated for poison oak at a military hospital.
Derrick Van Orden, who faces Rep. Ron Kind in November, said he was simply training the officers in possible medical treatments.
Van Orden wrote about the incident in “Book of Man: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to the Lost Art of Manhood.” Van Orden wrote about a five-day training mission in which he and other SEALS had to hide in “rabbit holes” in brush that included poison oak — causing breathing problems and other ailments, including swollen testicles.
“Here’s this lieutenant sitting behind a little curtain, spread eagle, (scrotum) huge as a cantaloupe, and his eyes swollen nearly shut,” Van Orden wrote. “That’s when I spotted two ensigns, who happened to be young girls in their early twenties.”
“‘Excuse me,’ I said to the two cute girls, approaching them. ‘Could I ask you something'”
“‘Sure,’ one of them answered.”
“After walking them over to the outside of the lieutenant’s location, I whipped the curtain back. ‘Have you ever seen anything like this?’ I asked. They gasped in horror as they saw the LT in all of his glory. I’m sure they never wanted to have anything to do with a man ever again.”
Van Orden declined to be interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , but said in a statement he was “instructing two junior Medical Corps officers in recognition and treatment for an advanced case of contact dermatitis.”
“I discussed the treatment modalities used to approach the problem set and the pharmacological interventions utilized to ensure that the SEAL officer could maintain a patent airway,” said Van Orden, who is trained as a medic.
Van Orden did not describe the women as medical officers in the book, the Sentinel added.
Kind, who is seeking his 13th term, called the incident sexual harassment, saying it is not something to brag about, it’s something to be condemned.”
“It’s outrageous and wrong,” Kind said in a statement. “This is not the behavior of someone who should be representing Wisconsin in Congress.”
In the memoir, Van Orden recounted the incident as he wrote about leadership. He wrote that while on the training mission, he noticed the lieutenant was having a reaction to the poison oak and he urged him to leave, but the lieutenant refused — showing what Van Orden described as poor leadership.