A Male Accused of Assaulting His Female Colleague at an Antarctica Base

  • A male employee at the National Science Foundation base in Antarctica was accused of assaulting a female colleague. 
  • According to the female employee, Stephen Tyler Bieneman was suffocating him with his leg.
  • Bieneman was detained in Antarctica, and taken to Hawaii.

According to court documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii a man working on a search-and-rescue team at the US National Science Foundation Antarctica base was taken into custody and transferred to Hawaii. He was accused of sexual assaulting a female colleague. 

According to a criminal complaint filed December 12, Stephen Tyler Bieneman was charged with assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

According to a federal affidavit, filed by Marc E. Tunstall (a federal agent stationed Antarctica), the incident occurred at McMurdo Station. It is one of three research stations managed under the US Antarctic Program by the National Science Foundation.

Tunstall states in the affidavit he was told on November 25th about an assault that took place at McMurdo. The victim, a woman, initially said she didn’t want the name of the man she had been assaulted by, but she later agreed that Tunstall, a doctor, and a sex assault advocate, would meet her. 

The woman, a US national, told Tunstall that while she and Bieneman — who she described as a casual friend — were sitting on a couch, she tried to prank him by taking his name tag and jokingly stating that she would not give it back. According to court documents she stated that Bieneman placed her on her back and then began to search her coverall pocket for her name tag. 

According to the affidavit the woman told Tunstall she then tapped Bieneman on the leg to make a “choking sign” to indicate she couldn’t breath. However, he didn’t remove his leg until he found the name tag. This took just one minute. According to the affidavit, the pain was rated as an 8.

According to court documents, she was eventually helped by another man, who helped provide medical care.

Bieneman appeared in court for the first time on Thursday. He was released with a $25,000.

His first hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2023 before Magistrate Kenneth J. Mansfield.

Insider reached out to the US attorney and Bieneman’s public defender for clarification.

Through the US Antarctic Program, the NSF employs thousands of scientists, military personnel, and staff who oversee research operations on the continent’s southernmost continent.

In Antarctica, there have been many cases of assault on women, including sexual assault. A report released in June by the NSF revealedMany employees considered sexual harassment to be a widespread issue. 

Over 70% of female respondents and almost 50% of male respondents claimed that sexual harassment is a problem at the US Antarctic Program. Meanwhile, 47% of female respondents reported that sexual assault is a problem and 33% of male respondents reported it.

One person in the report stated that “every woman I knew had been subject to an assault or harassment incident on ice.”

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