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      Guardsman accused of sexual assault tried in North Charleston court martial

      By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The trial for a military officer accused of sexual assault began Monday at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston.

      Authorities have charged Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar Gomez with sexual assault, failure to obey a lawful order, cruelty and maltreatment, making a false official statement and general articles.

      Gomez was previously based on Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin in Charleston.

      Gomez sexually assaulted or mistreated eight victims, six of which were in the Coast Guard and two of which were civilians, officials said.

      Gomez forced women to have sex with him and took inappropriate photos of his genitalia while on the ship, according to charging documents. They also stated he made offensive sexual comments and inappropriately touched women in a sexual manner.

      The alleged incidents took place aboard Coast Guard Polar Star, based in Seattle, in 2006 and aboard the Gallatin, based in Charleston, in 2011 and 2012. Officials said the incidents occurred in Seattle, Charleston, Honduras, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      The first day of the court martial consisted of panel selection. Attorneys admitted they would not be able to find any jurors who didn't know of the accusations of the accused. The pool of potential jurors was around 50 people, officials said.

      The defense also asked each potential juror if they thought the military had a "sexual assault problem." The responses were varied, but the officers made it clear the topic was often discussed amongst members of the military.

      Court martial resumes at 8 a.m.Tuesday with attorney opening statements.

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