Military judge denies motion to dismiss rape charges
April 18, 1997
Web posted at: 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (CNN) -- A military judge
ruled Friday that a jury should consider rape charges against
a drill sergeant who has sex with a subordinate, even if the
woman does not resist or state her objections.
The judge, Col. Paul Johnston, issued his ruling in the case against Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, who faces 55 counts of sexual misconduct. The defense had sought dismissal of 17 charges.
Johnston said drill sergeants have so much
power over trainees -- ordering them where to sleep and eat
and how to act -- that they are like parents.
Because of that authority, drill instructors do not need to
use a weapon or threaten trainees with harm to fit the
definition of "constructive force" necessary for a rape
conviction, Johnston said.
"They are conditioned to follow drill sergeants' orders," the
judge said in his denial of a defense request to dismiss rape charges. "I think there is a sufficient body of law to
find there is constructive force in this case."
Angered by Johnston's decision, defense attorney Frank
Spinner argued that his client's 6-foot-4-inch frame and
position of authority made it easy for prosecutors to claim
he intimidated trainees.
"A woman in her own mind can think anything she wants and
later claim it's rape. How is a man supposed to defend
himself against that?" Spinner asked rhetorically. "Are the
women so weak that they can't even open their mouths and say
Six women testified this week that Simpson forced them, without using a weapon, to have sex with him. Defense lawyers argued that any threats were misguided or imagined.
The defense was expected to call its first witness later
Simpson, 32, has been charged with 19 counts of rape and 36
other counts including indecent exposure, battery and
maltreatment involving 13 women. He has pleaded innocent to
the charges, but guilty to 11 counts of improper sexual
conduct with trainees.
Also Friday, Johnston granted a defense request to dismiss
three lesser charges of indecency against Simpson, the first
person to go to trial in the Aberdeen sex scandal.
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