Army trainers accused of raping soldiersNovember 7, 1996
Web posted at: 6:20 p.m. EST
From Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Army trainers were charged with rape Thursday in an investigation in which dozens of women soldiers say they were the victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct while in training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, a drill instructor, is accused of sexual misconduct -- including rape -- with 17 different victims. He is in jail charged with rape, forced sodomy, adultery, and improper fraternization.
Capt. Derrick Robertson -- a company commander -- is also charged with rape. Another non-commissioned officer, Staff Sgt. Nathanael Beach, is charged with fraternization, authorities said.
Others have been suspended or relieved of their duties. Sources say more arrests could occur as more victims are identified. In the Army a charge of rape carries a penalty of up to life in prison.
So far, more than 30 female soldiers -- most 18, 19, or 20 years old -- say they were the victim of sexual assault or improper sexual conduct while they were new soldiers in training at Aberdeen.
"Its not a pretty picture. Sordid is the word that comes to mind," said one Army official.
Gen. Dennis Reimer, the U.S. Army chief of staff, denounced the alleged misconduct, saying that one of the military's challenges was to stop sexual misconduct, but "it still occurs."(374K/34 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"If it only occurs once, that is once too many. We have zero tolerance for that and we will insist on zero tolerance in this area," Reimer said.
The Army says the investigation began in September after a trainee complained she was raped by Simpson. Interviews with hundreds of soldiers have turned up more than a dozen other victims who say they were coerced to have sex.
The Army now plans to interview as many as 1,000 soldiers who went through the camp in the past two years to determine whether any other women were victimized.
Reimer noted the abuse of authority that sexual misconduct charges imply. "When trainees come in as new soldiers ... they have a certain outlook on their leadership. America has placed a great deal of trust in the people that train our soldiers and we feel that trust very deeply."
Abuse of that authority "concerns me a great deal," Reimer said.
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