USAF Officer Pleads Guilty to CAP Cadet Molestation

Lt Col Stephen Governale, USAF
Lt Col Stephen Governale, USAF

By Howard Altman | The Tampa Tribune

ORLANDO – Stephen Governale had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, a protocol officer at U.S. Central Command and a leader of a National aviation cadet program before his arrest in September.

On Tuesday morning, he was a defendant wearing a maroon Seminole County Jail jumpsuit, pleading guilty in Orlando federal court to a charge that he tried to entice a teen to have sex. Governale, 49, is now a convicted sex offender facing at least 10 years in federal prison without parole.

Other potential victims — boys he had contact with through the Civil Air Patrol cadet program — were uncovered in the wake of Governale’s arrest. But under his plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Governale will face no more charges in connection with the case.
Organizations supporting victims of military sexual trauma say they would like to see further investigation because they think that too often those in positions of power violate their trust by engaging in sexual activities with subordinates.

Brian Purchia, spokesman for Protect our Defenders, said there should be additional investigation into Governale’s relations with the other young men he met through the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force.

“Over the years the leader of the National Cadet Program had access to hundreds if not thousands of cadets,” Purchia said. “We must get to the bottom of it. Anything less is unacceptable.”

For now, though, Governale’s path is set.

He must register as a sex offender and forfeit the computer and cellphone he used to communicate with a 17-year-old from the Orlando area, according to the plea agreement he reached with prosecutors. He may have to make restitution to the victim, as well, when he returns to court for sentencing June 13.

Because parole has been eliminated, Governale will likely have to serve the entire penalty. He will have supervised release for at least five years afterward and he faces a fine of $250,000, according to the plea agreement.

As Governale quietly admitted his guilt before U.S. District Judge Anne Conway on Tuesday, his wife, Terry Governale, sat on a bench in the courtroom with a family friend. She declined to answer questions before or after the plea.

In an interview with the Tribune last year, she called her husband “the kindest, most sincere, wonderful human being you could ever meet.”

Governale has resigned from the Air Force Reserve and from his civilian position at Tampa-based Centcom, said his attorney Cynthia Hawkins. However, he is still listed as a liaison between the Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force, though he has not performed those duties since his arrest, a spokesman for the Civil Air Patrol said.

An active member of the reserve since 1997, and Lieutenant Colonel since 2006, Governale had earned accolades for his work.

He was named one of two Centcom civilian employees of the year in 2010. He served for a decade as co-director of the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Officer School, a 10-day program where cadets from across the United States gather at Maxwell AFB in Alabama.

Investigators say it was through the Civil Air Patrol program that he met the teen and other young men with whom he may have had sexual contact. The Civil Air Patrol offers educational programs nationally to nearly 27,000 youths ages 12 to 20.

Governale was arrested Sept. 21 for using the Internet to entice a teen from Seminole County to meet him for sex, the FBI said. Investigators say they found evidence of “many, many” sexually explicit conversations with young men on his cellphone.



Cadet received the Billy Mitchell Award from Air Force Lt Col Stephen M. Gov­er­nale, pro­to­col offi­cer of the United States Central Command, Tampa.

On Sept. 11, the parents of the teen said, they saw sexually explicit conversations between Governale and their son on Facebook, according to investigators.

The parents contacted the FBI, and the teen told agents that he met Governale in 2009, according to a complaint. The teen said that he went on two trips with Governale, stayed in the same bed with him, watched pornographic movies in the hotel and engaged in a “contest” in which they touched each other sexually, according to the complaint.

Pretending to be the teen, an agent from the FBI Innocent Images Task Force engaged in sexually explicit Facebook chats with Governale, who agreed to meet at a Wendy’s in Orlando, according to the complaint. Instead of the teen, Governale was met by FBI agents, who arrested him.

FBI agent Rod Hyre testified at Governale’s bail hearing that the victim was a member of the Civil Air Patrol when he met Governale, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen L. Gable. Hyre testified that four other young men with whom Governale is accused of having sexual contact also were members of the patrol, according to Gable.

The Seminole teen said Governale spoke often about those young men, according to the plea agreement. He said Governale took part in similar “contests” with the youths, according to the plea agreement.

14 Comments on "USAF Officer Pleads Guilty to CAP Cadet Molestation"

  1. ABEvalTour | July 27, 2018 at 02:32 | Reply

    GAG. This story on a Civil Air Patrol member pedophile is TRUE and straight from Newsday and the Charlotte Observer and other real news in the state of North Carolina.

  2. Why are you not releasing the current Civil Air Patrol statutory rape story?!? Are you friends with this 21 year old?

  3. I am so so sorry, you guys are right about Civil Air Patrol. There is yet another CAP Pedophile story in the news today. Rob Beaumont. You were right, CAP culture is creepy with all the “grooming” that can secretly happen under threats of outing and reprisal.

  4. AnointedCharlie | October 2, 2017 at 21:52 | Reply

    “Who on earth got your panties in such a wad that this website is your response to CAP? — snip — I’m going to assume that you are a liar when you say you care about the truth, and assume this website is as fraudulent — snip — My name is — snip—-”

    [Editor’s Note: We received the full version of this aggressive and insincere “question” through our contact form a day or two ago. We’ve received a few others similar to it, but this was the worst and suggests a human under the control of another person. We do not allow underage people to expose themselves, by name, to long term judgment or reprisal on the internet, especially given that they cannot comprehend what is going on inside Civil Air Patrol or the number of people who have been harmed attempting to stem the abuse.

    Rephrasing the cadet’s opening question to a more sincere “Why are you doing this?”

    We suggest that this cadet look through all the pedophile, accident, crash, fraud, threat, suicide and cover-up stories that have been sourced across time to FAA, NTSB, District and Supreme Court Rulings and were then reprinted by media outlets for AuxBeacon to assemble here so that Congress can take action.]

    • Teenage cadets who want to understand just how bad things are in Civil Air Patrol need to read about how long it took for the complaints against pedophile priests in the Catholic Cult to get the attention of the public and law enforcement. The slap on the wrist punishments and the coverups, over decades if not centuries, encouraged repeat offenders.

      Only through repeated leaks and cries for help did it gradually become clear with outings in ’85, ’90s and the Boston Globe story in 2002 that this was really going down and that it was being covered-up.

      Finally, the John Jay report was commissioned and found in February of 2004 that some 11,000 allegations had been made against 4,392 priests in the United States alone.

      When many in the US started speaking out, this encouraged other victims around the world to come forward.

  5. I can tell you what questions are on the Spaatz Exam and write essays for you. Contact me at [redacted].

  6. The Kool Aid peddlers over at CAPTalk are initiating the Jedi mind tricks to justify silencing or discrediting those members who have been working to expose commander abuse, taxpayer waste, accidents and lack of accountability in Civil Air Patrol.

    Lt Col Darin Ninness suggested in a new thread “What CAP-Talk Was, And What Its Become” (sic) that members are saying:

    “yeah, don’t bother going to CAPTalk. Its a bunch of malcontents who just want to argue and complain” or “If you post there, some guy from Illinois will just shout you down” (seriously, someone said that..) forced me to evaluate what CAPTalk has become, prompting my discussion with Mike.”

    While that may NOT be true in any significant numbers, members ARE sharing evidence that we have incompetent, sadistic and abusive commanders, pedophiles and sloppy unsafe pilots. The recent suicides in the program have disturbed new members.

    At a time when all this Civil Air Patrol sickness has finally been brought to public and congressional light, Ninness would like to use new, ignorant members to push it all back down into the grave with Wheless, Glasgow, Boylan, not to mention Ferrie and Barry Seal.

    He wrote:

    “The forum might benefit from the ability to ‘gild’ comments and/or commenters. Newbies will see immediately who the smart people you should be paying attention to are, and who the rabble rousers are, and what kind of discussion tone is well regarded and what kind is not preferred.”


    “I’m thinking to myself ‘If you hate CAP that much, why the hell are you still here?’ The vitrol needs to be moderated, because its poisoning the well.”

    • If that cotton-headed Ninness-muggins of a National Recruiting Manager attempts to discourage a member from sharing news about CAP accidents, either in aircraft or in someone’s pants, then we will simply bring it to NOTF or AuxB which already have much more web traffic.

      I predict all the exposure will lead them to shut down CrAPTalk.

    • zzSIDEWINDERzz | December 3, 2019 at 02:36 | Reply

      Ninness is exactly the type of trash CAP advances and places into upper echelons of command. Ninness played the game like many others. He, like others stabbed the innocent along the way to get in good graces and trust with command and presto, he got promoted. That is how it works in the CAP. Unethical and bad behavior resulted in personal rewards.

      And the worst part is the CAP members are forced to bear the brunt of them while at the same time mentoring our youth to mirror their horrid leadership traits.

  7. Ray Hayden has updated his blog with true statements on drones vs CrAP pilots.

  8. This story and the one on trash-talk indoctrination helps draw the attention of an oblivious Civil Air Patrol Senior Membership to just how bad the objectification and sexual grooming problems are across the program.

    Even while CAP leaders at the San Antonio Conference blather on how this has ended, I swear to you that this is not true. Many know of CAP cadets or young female officers who do not want to lose opportunities through psych evals or defamation and are enduring or not reporting what has happened to them so that they can eventually move on. Some are riding on their commanders abuse to get where they will go.

    Please post my comment so that when the news eventually does come out there will be some proof that this concern was valid and that the leaders at the San Antonio Conference lied to the members while doling out awards and praise.

  9. Unrelated, but just want to share the good news! Capt. David C Cauffield has relieved Capt. Andrew J. Burns as commander of the Augusta Composite Squadron (MER-VA-002) of the Civil Air Patrol.

  10. Impressive! Great job on this story, AuxBeacon!

  11. The systemic pattern of physical and mental abuse in Civil Air Patrol has resulted in lying denials and coverups followed by suicides and convictions but never a public apology from the organization to those exposing the severity of the problem. Civil Air Patrol and its Board of Governors continues to encourage its commanders to conduct reprisals against whistle-blowers who expose this pathetic line of commanders as absolute gutter trash.

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