About Adultery Penalty, FBI Probe Dog Huachuca Chaplain
|February 11th, 2007||#1|
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Adultery Penalty, FBI Probe Dog Huachuca Chaplain info
February 11, 2007
By Carol Ann Alaimo, Arizona Daily Star
The soldier said he was single in his online personal ad, and seemed nice enough when Joanne Ruffner met him for a mountain hike in 2004.
They became friends and exchanged e-mails when he went to Iraq, then grew to become lovers and set a wedding date.
What Ruffner didn't know is that he was already married with a wife and kids. Or that he was an Army chaplain.
Or that their romance would end in such a nightmare it now is the focus of an FBI investigation.
Capt. Mike Myers, 45, a chaplain at Fort Huachuca from 2002 to 2005, recently was disciplined by the Army for adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer for his relationship in person and via the Internet with Ruffner, 33, of Huachuca City.
The FBI is involved because nude photographs of Ruffner, which she'd sent to Myers overseas, later ended up on Internet sex sites days after she reported him to the Army. Copies also were e-mailed to her boss and co-workers in Sierra Vista.
Myers, now stationed at Camp Zama, Japan, still is a chaplain but is removed from ministry while the FBI probe is in progress, Army officials say.
He was ordained by the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, and is endorsed as a chaplain by the National Association of Evangelicals.
Myers had no comment when contacted by e-mail for this story. "Captain Myers is declining to make any comments," said his military defense lawyer, Capt. Lynn Williams.
Myers isn't the first Army officer disciplined for Internet-related adultery.
In 2003, Col. Kassem Saleh the so-called "Army Romeo" was punished for proposing online to dozens of women while deployed to Afghanistan. One was said to be suicidal when she learned the truth, the New York Times reported.
A military-law expert says such cases show why the armed forces deem it necessary to keep adultery on the books as a punishable offense.
An expert on cyberstalking the umbrella term for online harassment said Ruffner's case is not as unusual as it might seem: Her national agency gets dozens of reports each week of online retaliation.
Ruffner, meanwhile, has been left reeling and is adamant that Myers not be allowed to continue as a chaplain, a moral authority figure for soldiers in all sorts of vulnerable situations.
"My life has been shattered by this man," she said. "I cannot understand how a man of God could do something so cold to another human being."
She agreed to tell her story, she said, to spread awareness of cyberstalking and the potential for online-dating deceptions.
"Normally, I'm a very private person," said Ruffner, who served nine years in the Army. "But maybe by talking about it I can save someone else from going through this heartache."
Ruffner, who grew up in Tucson and graduated from Palo Verde High School in 1991, said she wasn't romantically interested in Myers at first. She said she saw his profile while looking for people in the Sierra Vista area interested in hiking.
Myers said he was single with no kids and was a military intelligence officer at Fort Huachuca, she said. In fact, he was a chaplain with the 40th Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, a unit that installs and operates communications systems.
After a hike in Coronado National Forest, they exchanged platonic e-mails and talked by phone a few times, Ruffner said. Several months later, when Myers transferred to Japan and then deployed to Iraq, he e-mailed asking her to write.
At first, their messages were innocuous: chats about weather, their pets and the monotony of military life.
As months passed, the exchanges became flirtatious then turned torrid.
By the summer of 2006, Myers was showering Ruffner with flowers and gifts at her home and office. He wrote long, flowery missives declaring his love and his wish to marry her.
She saved every card, e-mail and photo, every envelope with a military postmark from Camp Slayer in Iraq.
"I've been thinking about what it will be like to have you as my wife, companion, friend," Myers wrote in June 2006. "I long for the time we can be together forever. ... You are the woman I've always dreamed of."
Myers talked of getting out of the Army and returning to Sierra Vista after they wed. He even started writing to her father.
"I am Mike Myers, the man who is very much in love with your beautiful daughter," read an August 2006 e-mail. "Joanne is fantastic, caring, smart, wonderful and I love her with all my heart. Thank you for raising such a great woman."
Art Ruffner, 69, a military retiree from Huachuca City, still boils when he thinks of those messages and the toll the truth took on his daughter.
"Joanne was devastated. You couldn't print the words I had to say when I found out he was married," he said.
"I was ready to fly to Japan to confront him. You know the little cross a chaplain wears on his lapel? I wanted to go right up to him and rip it off his uniform. That man should not be working in any religious field."
Joanne Ruffner, who is divorced and describes herself as cautious in love, said she believed Myers was "the one."
The pair began exchanging photos of themselves in various states of undress. In August 2006, they met for a romantic rendezvous in Kansas City, while Myers was on leave from Iraq and Ruffner was attending a business conference there.
The weekend was documented in snapshots taken as they frolicked in their hotel room.
They set a wedding date of July 4, 2008, and Myers began sending Ruffner money online to start buying wedding supplies, she said. The cash was sent through the Paypal system, once from Myers' Army e-mail account, the receipt shows.
But in October 2006, when Myers finished his Iraq tour and returned to Japan, Joanne Ruffner began to sense something was wrong. He grew distant, she said, and one day she got an e-mail titled "I'm sorry."
"This is the most difficult letter I will ever write ...
"You had asked me a long time ago if I had ever been married. I misread it and thought you asked if I was married. Then you asked me a similar question again and at the time we were not 'serious' and I never thought we would ever be, so I just said no.
"Well I was married some time ago and I also have two children who I have not seen in a very long time and did not ever expect to see any time soon.
"Well, 4 days ago they came to Japan. I was shocked, surprised, yet happy to see them after so many years. I have a daughter 16 and a son 14. ...
"I'm so sorry Joanne. I love you so much, but I will not blame you if you hate me or don't ever want to talk to me again.
"One other thing that surprises me is that their mother, who I have not spoken with in several years, came along with them, so I have to provide her a place to stay. I was able to get a four-bedroom house and we are all living here together."
"I was stunned and hurt and felt so betrayed," Ruffner said.
Still, she said, she was prepared to forgive Myers and even planned to move to Japan until she stumbled across something that changed her mind.
Searching the Internet for more information, Ruffner found a photo of Myers that had been taken overseas and posted on a Christian Web site. The caption said he was a chaplain.
"I was floored. I never would have known. He never spoke of God," Ruffner recalled.
Minutes later, another domino fell. She found an online Army article that said Myers' teen daughter had lived with him at Fort Huachuca. It also said the girl had moved to Japan with her dad.
Ruffner called the chaplain's office at Camp Zama, trembling as she dialed.
Another chaplain answered, and she asked him if Myers was married. "He said, 'Chaplain Myers is very married, and he's got two kids.' And I started crying," she recalled.
She poured out her story, then agreed to send copies of e-mails, photos and other proof to Myers' bosses.
Soon after, she got an e-mail from Myers calling her a liar.
"Joanne, You really should go for mental health counseling. I can't believe you fabricated these e-mails and then of all things sent them to my supervisory chaplain. ... You really have done a mean-hearted thing to me and my family. On Monday I am going to JAG to see about getting a restraining order against you and try to put this scam to rest.
"You tell them you are my fiancιe? How can that be? I never proposed. ... You are a very cruel person. ... I am so hurt that you would twist our friendship into something that it is not. Then to send those photos of when we were just playing around, wow, that is something else."
A few days later, a Web site for "swinging singles and couples" sent her an e-mail saying her profile had been posted under the name joanneAZnymph. The site displayed several nude photos of her. Similar postings followed on other sex sites.
|February 11th, 2007||#2|
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I've noticed of late that Active Duty Military Chaplain's can be very vindictive, I've also taken note that it matters not the Nation nor Denomination..... or even the Branch of Service.
★INITIAL SUCCESS✫or✫TOTAL FAILURE★