Navy Commander Accused of Assault With Intent to Rape: SDPD

Commander John M. Neuhart II, 39, was arrested Monday by SDPD patrol officers

A U.S. Navy commander was arrested in San Diego Monday on suspicion of assault with intent to rape, according to a San Diego Police Department sex crimes investigator.

Commander John M. Neuhart II, 39, was arrested Monday by SDPD patrol officers. He was booked into San Diego County Jail on one count of attempted rape by force and one count of assault with intent to rape, police said. 

Neuhart is the commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, based at Anderson Air Force Base on Guam.

The incident took place Monday, when San Diego police responded to a call of a sexual assault occurring in the city's Valencia Park neighborhood, SDPD Sex Crimes Lt. Paul Phillips said. 

It wasn't clear Tuesday if Neuhart was being represented by an attorney. He was released on bail, according to a representative of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Neuhart and the victim, both members of the Navy, met at a hotel downtown when the victim, with a group of friends, recognized Neuhart, according to Phillips. The group talked for a while until the victim left the bar to go home, with Neuhart going as well.

Neuhart followed the victim into her house, at which point he allegedly attempted to rape her. 

"The suspect immediately became forceful with her and attempted to sexually assault her," Phillips said.

The victim fought the suspect off and screamed loudly, Phillips said. A neighbor heard the screams and ran to the front of the house to ask if the victim was okay. When she answered no, the neighbor called 911 and said through the window that the police were on the way. 

Neuhart apparently heard the remark, Phillips said, and escaped through the back door. 

The neighbor flagged down police when they arrived and pointed out Neuhart, who was running down the street and into a nearby canyon. 

Officers apprehended Neuhart in the canyon and took him into custody. 

District Attorney representative Tanya Sierra noted that charges listed under an arrest may not be the same charges prosecutors file when Neuhart appears in court for his arraignment. 

He is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 19 at 1:30 p.m., she said.

Assistant PAO Command of Naval Air Forces Lt. Leslie Hubbell would not confirm the allegation that led to the arrest.

"Things are in investigatory phase," Hubbell told NBC 7 late Monday.

The Navy Times reports Neuhart was in San Diego for a conference.

According to a website for the Navy, Neuhart joined the "Warhawks" of Fleet Replacement Squadron, HS-10 in San Diego in 2002. Since then, he was deployed aboard USS Harry S. Truman, and served as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) at the Seahawk Weapons School "Seawolf" in Fallon, Nevada.

Navy officials told NBC 7 that Commander William Easthamis was given temporary command of Neuhart's squadron.

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