A female British Army staff sergeant was demoted after pulling down her colleague’s trousers, yanking her underwear and licking her face during a Skype call, a court martial heard.
Staff Sergeant Kayleigh Preston allegedly pulled down the lower-ranked soldier’s trousers at work while she was on a Skype video call. She then allegedly grabbed Sergeant Louise St Louis’s underwear and pointed out it matched the colour of her trousers, the hearing was told.
At another meeting Sgt Preston licked her junior colleague’s forehead, but claimed it was just ‘banter’. She was later disciplined and found guilty of ill-treatment of a subordinate which led to her being reduced in rank to sergeant and ordered to pay her victim £800.
Sgt Preston is now appealing the decision. The hearing at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, was told Sgt St Louis started working at the Army Welfare Service in Tidworth, Wiltshire, in November 2021.
Staff Sergeant Kayleigh Preston (pictured) allegedly pulled down a lower-ranked soldier’s trousers at work while she was on a Skype video call
Sergeant Louise St Louis (pictured) has claimed that Sgt Preston pulled her underwear and pointed out it matched the colour of her trousers
She told the hearing that last year, Sgt Preston – who was her supervisor – approached her while she was on a Skype call giving ‘therapeutic’ advice work.
‘Whilst I was on the call, Staff Sergeant Preston walked into the office,’ she said. ‘I didn’t really know what was going on behind me.
‘[Sgt Preston] pulled my shirt from my trousers and whilst using one hand to keep my shirt lifted, lowered my trousers using her other hand.
‘At which point she then grabbed my underwear and pulled it out, and whilst doing so, said “You are wearing blue underwear”.’
Sgt St Louis cannot recall the specific date but said it happened on a Friday – a day in which staff members are allowed to wear ‘civilian clothing’.
She added: ‘I was wearing a white shirt with blue smart trousers.
‘A comment was made about my underwear because I was wearing blue underwear – the same as my trousers.’
Sgt St Louis said she was ‘so engrossed’ in her Skype call that she ‘didn’t know what to do’.
After Sgt Preston left the office, she said to her colleague, ‘What the f***’.
The hearing was told that when the pair started to work together, their relationship was good, but it deteriorated over time.
After the incident, Sgt St Louis said she didn’t report it because she didn’t want to ‘ruffle feathers’.
The appeal hearing was told of another incident where Sgt Preston behaved inappropriately to her subordinate during a Monday morning meeting in June 2022.
Sgt Kayleigh Preston pictured outside Bulford Military Court Centre
Sgt St Louis said the incident occurred during the ‘usual team meeting’, adding: ‘As usual we all grabbed a chair and headed into the office.
‘When I sat in my chair, Kayleigh walked into the office and, in a dragging motion, licked the right-hand side of my forehead. Kayleigh then sat down.’
The hearing was presented with diary extracts from a ‘2021/2022’ notebook which was kept by Sgt St Louis to jot down things that happened at work.
The Sergeant had written notes saying ‘Underwear pulled’, ‘Forehead licked’, and ‘Toxic team dynamic’. Eventually, Sgt St Louis filed a complaint against her supervisor.
Warrant Officer Rebecca Sugden – who is in charge of Sgt Preston – blamed the toxic working environment on Sgt St Louis.
She told the court: ‘The dynamic worked really well but there was a period of time where it didn’t work as well.
‘The team dynamic was working well until Sgt St Louis entered the team. Then, the dynamic changed quite quickly – it became toxic.’
Major Sarah Gerrard, prosecuting, said that on October 18, 2022, Sgt Preston was interviewed under caution by military police.
Major Gerrard said: ‘She admitted she licked the complainant on the forehead but she denied grabbing and pulling her underwear.’
In a summary hearing earlier this year, Sgt Preston was charged with ill-treatment of a subordinate for pulling Sgt St Louis’s underwear and licking her face.
Sgt Preston was punished by a reduction in rank from Staff Sergeant to Sergeant and was ordered to pay Sgt St Louis £800.
Defending, Derek Johashen, said Sgt Preston did lick the woman but it was in fact during a hug.
He said: ‘It was just more of the same banter that would go on in the office.’
In response, Sgt St Louis said: ‘I don’t think that licking a forehead is banter. A hug is a hug, but licking someone’s forehead is different.’
The hearing continues.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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