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A former San Diego-based Navy SEAL, recipient of the Medal of Valor and numerous other awards, says the Washington Examiner defamed him by posting a picture of him for a story on another Navy SEAL who was tried on child pornography charges.
Chief Petty Officer Joseph Schmidt filed his lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court on Dec. 16.
The lawsuit centers around an April 2017 article entitled, “Navy SEAL Charged With Making Child Porn,” detailing allegations against Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Kyle Seerden. Those allegations included child molestation and committing acts of bestiality. Seerden was arrested and later pleaded guilty to producing child pornography.
But it was the image that the Washington Examiner selected for the story about Seerden’s arrest, however, that raised issues for Schmidt, who was based in Coronado at the time.
Schmidt, according to a recent lawsuit, has spent nearly three years pleading with the Washington Examiner to remove his photo and issue a retraction.
“I have dealt with plenty of stressful situations over the course of my life and my service, but none of that prepared me for the pain that this fake story caused me and my family here,” said Schmidt in a statement to NBC 7. “I am angry that the Washington Examiner would not accept responsibility and apologize to my family for this. The last thing we wanted was for this public nightmare to start all over again.”
According to the complaint, the story on Seerden, paired with Schmidt’s photo, went viral.
“Within a few minutes, the article-and [Schmidt’s] photo went viral and were being viewed by people all over the world,” reads the complaint. “Multiple media outlets in Schmidt’s community ran the story with his photo attached as a direct consequence of Washington Examiner's egregious error. As a result, [his] reputation, built through a lifetime of military and community service, was smeared in his community and throughout the world.”
Strangers, as well as those he knew, approached Schmidt asking about the crimes, he said. His family lived in fear of death threats and were allegedly forced to sell their home and move to keep his family safe.
All along, Schmidt’s tried to get the paper to issue a retraction, according to his attorney Dan Gilleon.
“Washington Examiner’s mistake was fueled in part by the rush to be the first media outlet to publish what at the time was a high-profile story,” said Gilleon. “In their quest to do so they had a reckless disregard for the harm they caused, not only to my client, but his family and the Navy SEALs. It’s disappointing that such an esteemed newspaper shows such callous disrespect by refusing to issue a simple correction and apology.”
According to recent google searches, the Washington Examiner has removed the photo from the current article. But, according to Gilleon, too little too late.
“The Washington Examiner seeded the false story and with the internet, the rest is history,” Gilleon said.
But this is not Schmidt’s first attempt at going after the Washington Examiner in court. Schmidt filed a similar defamation in Florida State Court. That lawsuit, however, was thrown out because Schmidt did not live in Florida at the time.
It is also not the only time that Schmidt has been featured in national news stories.
Just months after Schmidt’s photo appeared on the Washington Examiner, the Navy announced it was investigating the Chief Special Warfare Officer for appearing in 29 adult films with his wife . According to media reports, Schmidt performed under the name “Jay Voom.” The videos did not feature Schmidt in uniform.
According to the lawsuit, Schmidt is now focusing on his work with the Make a Wish Foundation and volunteering with underprivileged children.
“Put simply,” reads the lawsuit, “Schmidt has dedicated his life to serving others.”
"He might get in trouble for not asking permission to moonlight, and being so close to retirement I don't see much happening. But you never know."
by Alexandra Lozovschi | Jun 6, 2022
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A distinguished Navy SEAL working in porn under the screen name Jay Voom is being investigated for violating SEAL policies, putting his career and pension at risk.
As first reported by The San Diego Union Tribune , Navy Chief Special Warfare Officer Joseph John Schmidt III, 42, who is set to retire in eight months, is in danger of losing his job and being demoted . The consequences of his work in porn could also impact his pension benefits, the Tribune reported.
"We have initiated a formal investigation into these allegations. There are very clear regulations which govern outside employment by (Naval Special Warfare) personnel as well as prohibitions on behavior that is discrediting to the service," Capt. Jason Salata, a navy spokesman, told the paper.
Details are yet to emerge about whether Schmidt's pension will be indeed affected, although Schmidt's more than 20 years of service to the military should qualify him for pension benefits . Usually, pensions are only taken away when a military man is convicted of " criminal disloyalty " to the United States.
The Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare Command has already assigned an officer to Schmidt's case. Schmidt is accused of violating policies particularly in relation to obtaining approval from superiors to engage in outside work.
According to the article, navy officials claimed that Schmidt did not "seek clearance" to work as a porn actor. He did receive permission in the past, however, to sell herbal supplements to augment his income.
Schmidt entered the porn business to help pay a debt for a failed real estate venture, which acquired $1.8 million in debt. He had appeared in almost 30 films, at times with his wife, porn celebrity Jewels Jade.
She also noted that Schmidt's colleagues had seen Joseph's videos. "He got called in and they said, 'Look, keep it on the low, don't mention the SEAL name and blah, blah, blah."
"If anyone runs into the article about my family and I, a lot of things are twisted. It's funny how reporters do that" she said in her tweet. "Half of that article was spun around and I didn't say that wording at all. Never said all seal are addicted to porn."
Outside his work, Schmidt is a respected member of the community, giving inspirational talks to special-needs children in Los Angeles.
Schmidt declined to be interviewed by the Tribune . Both Schmidt and Jade were unreachable, according to Ash. "It looked like somebody was home when I went there but nobody came to the gate. Nobody picked up the phone either," she said.
[Featured Image by Petty Officer 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi/U.S. Navy/AP Images]
Navy Chief Special Warfare Officer Joseph John Schmidt III has been living dual lives. As a member of the Navy...
Carl Prine, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Published Apr 14, 2017 4:00 PM
Navy Chief Special Warfare Officer Joseph John Schmidt III has been living dual lives.
As a member of the Navy SEALs, the 42-year-old boasts a chest of ribbons and medals during his 23 years in the military, including a valor citation for combat overseas. To his East County neighbors and Coronado shipmates, he’s been the married father who has given pep talks to special-needs children in Los Angeles and toured the country recruiting for the elite Naval Special Warfare teams, even serving as the face of the SEAL program on its website.
Schmidt is also Jay Voom, the actor in at least 29 porn flicks during the past seven years, from “Apple Smashing Lap Dance” to “Strippers Come Home Horny From the Club.”
He has spent most of his time in front of the camera engaging in sex with his wife — porn megastar Jewels Jade — for her website and film-distribution service. But he also has coupled with XXX actresses Mena Li and Ashden Wells, according to marketing materials found by The San Diego Union-Tribune and confirmed by Jade.
Schmidt declined to comment for this story.
The Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare Command has launched an investigation, and a commissioned officer has been assigned to handle the case.
Major questions include whether Schmidt violated rules mandating that SEALs obtain advance approval from their commanders for outside work and whether the SEAL brass has been quietly condoning his film work. The investigation began only eight months before Schmidt had planned to retire, and disciplinary action could affect his rank and pension benefits.
“We have initiated a formal investigation into these allegations. There are very clear regulations which govern outside employment by (Naval Special Warfare) personnel as well as prohibitions on behavior that is discrediting to the service,” said Capt. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the SEALs.
In an interview this week, Schmidt’s wife of 15 years claimed that many high-ranking SEALs have long known about her husband’s movies and seemed to tolerate his moonlighting. She also alleged that the SEALs invited her to the commandos’ Coronado campus to sign autographs for troops after she was named a 2011 Penthouse Pet of the Month.
Navy officials said Schmidt did not fill out mandatory paperwork to seek clearance from his chain of command for work as a porn actor. The command did grant formal permission for Schmidt to sell herbal supplements as a side business.
The armed forces’ rules for secondary employment have the force of a “punitive instruction,” which means violators can be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for lack of compliance.
The military has a long history of punishing active-duty service members and even veterans who do everything from writing unauthorized memoirs, to taking side jobs without permission, to engaging in work seen as detrimental to the military’s reputation.
Like other military branches, the Navy bans activities that prejudice “good order and discipline or that is service discrediting,” risk potential “press or public relations coverage” or “create an improper appearance.”
For instance: After she posed nude in a 2007 Playboy magazine spread, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michelle Manhart received a formal reprimand, was removed from her position as a training instructor and was demoted.
During a 1980 probe of seven servicewomen who appeared naked in Playboy, investigators also discovered that a male Marine major had posed in Playgirl. The armed forces punished the women with involuntarily discharges and gave the major a formal reprimand, allowing him to remain in the service.
SEALs also are barred from employment that discloses secret tactics and techniques, markets the SEAL’s active-duty status or involves a contractor doing business with the U.S. Department of Defense. Many high-profile SEAL misconduct cases have fallen into these categories.
In 2012, for example, the Navy formally reprimanded members of SEAL Team Six for helping Electronic Arts design the video game “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”
Similar non-disclosure rules extend into a SEAL’s retired years. In 2014, former SEAL Matt Bissonnette was forced to repay the federal government $4.5 million for writing an unauthorized, first-hand account of the slaying of terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Schmidt’s unlikely entry into the skin trade turns on a very different kind of moonlighting gig he took while serving as a SEAL in Virginia.
He and his wife founded the Norfolk-based real estate company Schmidt and Wolf Associates in 2005, according to Virginia state documents. Within two years, losses at multiple rental properties created nearly $1.8 million in personal debt, according to the couple’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
Three properties had both first and second mortgages, and bankruptcy records show the pair had resorted to using credit cards to finance loan repayments. Schmidt’s Navy pay was less than $60,000 per year at the time, according to the federal filing.
Jade appeared in dozens of porn films after her 2001 debut in “Escape to Sex Island,” but she had left the industry by 2003 to become a wife and mother, attend school for her nursing degree and run the real estate firm.
As business losses deepened, she became a stripper to make ends meet, logging long weeks in Las Vegas and sending money home. Then she reluctantly returned to making sex films for the cash, she said.
“It’s helped our family. It got us out of a lot of financial issues we were going through,” Jade said. “I could take care of the child. I could try to get us out of financial debt.”
When the family rotated to Coronado in early 2009 for her husband’s military service, she stayed in the porn business. Jade said it wasn’t by choice. She discovered that once a woman becomes a name in the porn video and Internet trade, with millions of fans worldwide, she’s spotted nearly everywhere she goes.
“Once you’re recognized and you build a brand and you’ve got your fans who know who you are, when you go to try to find a job, you can’t get another job,” she said.
Jade said she tried to get a management job at a luxury hotel in San Diego last year. Before she finished her employment interview, a fan recognized her, the gossip quickly spread through that office and she realized she couldn’t work there.
She’s currently ranked 79th globally for brand recognition by FreeOnes, a website often used by porn directors to book stars based on their popularity. To maintain that level of stardom in the industry, she said actresses need certain side ventures to lend credibility to their personal brand and to give fans a way to follow their careers.