Soldiers take stand, say sergeant raped them
April 14, 1997
From Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre
ABERDEEN, Maryland (CNN) -- Sobbing on the witness stand, a 22-year-old Army private gave an explicit account of being raped by Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Simpson, 32, is accused of 19 rape counts involving six female trainees. While he admits he broke military regulations by having sex with 11 soldiers, he claims it was consensual and has pleaded innocent.
Four witnesses testified Monday against Simpson, including two who gave explicit accounts of rape and another who said Simpson kissed her against her will, trying to stick his tongue down her mouth.
Simpson is one of 11 instructors charged with sexual misconduct at Aberdeen, a weapons-testing center about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore. The Army training scandal sparked a worldwide investigation into sexual misconduct at U.S. military bases.
All 12 of the Aberdeen soldiers are black, while most of the alleged victims are white. Army investigators have denied race was a factor in their probe.
The first witness to testify, the 22-year old private, told the court that Simpson raped her when she went to visit him in her unit's barracks to complain about what she described as repeated criticism of her uniform and nail polish.
Simpson "pushed me into another room, put me on the bed. He was laying on top of me. I couldn't go anywhere," she said. When Prosecutor Theresa Gallagher asked how she felt at that point, she answered, "Scared, confused. I didn't know what was going to happen."
She said she was afraid Simpson would "beat on me, kill me -- I had no clue."
She described being raped by Simpson and said she felt threatened afterwards. "He said if I told anybody they would never believe me. He said he would see me later on that week."
Gallagher asked her, "What did you think that meant?"
She said, "That it would happen again."
Another witness, a 21-year-old specialist, said Simpson accosted her after bed check while she was returning from a visit to the bathroom. He sent her to his office, then came in and shut the door, bent down and kissed her.
She asked what are you doing, he kissed her again, covered "my mouth with his hand," pulled down her pants, his shorts and "made me sleep with him," she testified.
Simpson's attorneys tried to show that the first witness to testify Monday did not call the incident a rape when she finally told someone about it two weeks later. They implied she might have been seeking "preferential treatment" from Simpson.
His lawyers also are expected to argue that the rape counts and scores of other charges were lies and exaggerations by Army investigators or trainees who willingly had sex with Simpson.
During the approximately 45 minutes of testimony, the first witness admitted she had had consensual sexual relationships with two other drill sergeants at Aberdeen Proving Ground. She said Simpson knew of one of those relationships, and threatened to reveal it in an attempt to keep her quiet.
The soldier said she told another drill sergeant of the assault shortly afterward, but pleaded with him not to report it. She said, "I was embarrassed and I didn't think anyone would believe me."
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