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4 WOMEN SUE NAVY OVER TAILHOOK INCIDENT

The Navy, beset by allegations of sexual harassment in its ranks, now faces multimillion-dollar damage claims from four women who say they were assaulted by drunken aviators at last year's Tailhook convention.

In the first legal action spawned by the Tailhook scandal, the women also filed separate lawsuits Tuesday against Hilton Hotels and the Tailhook Association, accusing them of negligence for allowing the sexual attacks to take place.The four were among more than 25 women, including at least a dozen Navy officers, who told Navy investigators they were groped and fondled by a mob of drunken, cheering aviators on Sept. 7, 1991, in a crowded hallway at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Las Vegas lawyer Cal Potter said Tuesday the four filed federal tort claims with the Navy Department last Wednesday in which each sought more than $2.5 million in damages.

They said they were victims of battery, sexual assault and sexual harassment at last year's convention and said they had suffered emotional distress and mental anguish, Potter said.

In civil suits filed Tuesday in Las Vegas Superior Court, the women blamed Hilton Hotels and Tailhookfor failing to provide adequate security for guests at the convention.