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Bristol Crown Court heard Howeson allegedly continued to abuse young men after leaving the navy.
The 67-year-old former officer denies all the charges He became a first lieutenant and second-in-command on a ship and felt he was 'too powerful' to be affected by complaints against him, a jury heard.
It was also Howeson was granted a similar 'escape' during his subsequent employment at environmental organisation Groundwork Trust in Plymouth, where he was employed as executive director.
Six of his 12 victims were allegedly indecently assaulted by Howeson between April 1992 and February 1993, during his time working at the Trust.
In it, the man said he felt 'uncomfortable' around Howeson, and 'kept out of his way' before the night he was indecently assaulted.
He said the older man was 'over-familiar' and would stand too close or touch his hand, but he did not report it because he was worried it would sound petty.
The court heard he would take them individually to an isolated place and make up some excuse to lift them up - for instance, checking the cabling in the lights - before touching their penis and testicles, either inside or outside their clothing.
But they were told it was pointless taking the matter to court, as negative publicity could destroy the Groundwork Trust.'The Trust did not take the matter to police, and instead, five days after the complaints were made, the defendant resigned with immediate effect for 'health reasons'.'Mr Dunkels said Howeson's behaviour only came to light two years ago, in 2015, when a separate victim came forward and accused Howeson of the one count of an attempted serious sexual assault.
A complaint to Navy officials was made but he was let off with a warning and went on to pursue a successful career in the service, it was said.
Howeson was second-in-command on board HMS Cleopatra, pictured, at the time of the alleged groping incident.
He was arrested and quizzed by police in March 2016 for the charge, which he denied.
Jurors watched a video-recorded interview of the evidence given by the first complainant in the case, who served on HMS Cleopatra with the defendant.