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Troubled finances led officer to sex ring

A Navy officer who testified this week that she moonlighted for an alleged prostitution ring while stationed at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., was nearly $300,000 in debt at the time despite a Navy income of more than $93,000, court records show.

Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Dickinson, 38, owed more than $58,000 on 20 credit cards and $177,000 in three mortgages on a house in Georgia, according to records from a bankruptcy filing in December 2006. She also reported spending $700 a month on travel to see her three children.

The records offer the first clues as to why a decorated Navy officer would turn to work as a call girl.

Dickinson, a supply officer, managed food services at the Naval Academy from September 2004 to May 2007, a Navy spokesman said. She also taught a leadership course in the leadership, ethics and law department.

But on the side she visited the homes of white-collar clients of an escort service, charging $275 for 90-minute appointments, which typically involved sex, she testified this week. The service was allegedly run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who is being tried in U.S. District Court in Washington. Palfrey's clientele allegedly included a number of high-profile government officials.

Dickinson's lawyer said Thursday that the officer regretted her actions.

"On some level, she's not a big fan of the prostitution laws and believing that the conduct is so inherently bad," lawyer Jonathan Gladstone said. "Although she does realize the effects this is going to have on the service. She is incredibly regretful that she feels like she's let her shipmates down."

Dickinson, who is now stationed at the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga., has been relieved of her duties and placed on leave, a Navy spokesman said. Her current pay grade, with housing allowance, is $93,897.

Because she testified under grant of immunity, she effectively cannot be court-martialed or prosecuted for federal crimes relating to the case, the spokesman, Capt. Jack Hanzlik, said. The Navy is considering administrative punishment, which could include an other-than-honorable discharge and a "substantial" loss of retirement benefits, Hanzlik said.

Troubled finances led officer to sex ring 04/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:32am]
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