Legal wrangling delays Army sex trialApril 23, 1997
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EDT
ABERDEEN, Maryland (CNN) -- Closing arguments in the rape trial of Army Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson have been delayed until Thursday, because of legal wrangling over jury instructions.
The six-member military jury had been expected to get the case late Wednesday. Simpson is charged with raping six trainees a total of 19 times, and also faces 35 other counts. Deliberations should begin Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors contend Simpson raped the female trainees while he was a drill sergeant at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1995 and 1996, mostly through threats and intimidation.
Simpson, 32, is the first of 12 trainers charged in a sex scandal at Aberdeen Proving Ground who is facing court-martial, and he faces the most charges. Others charged have signed plea agreements.
It is the largest sex scandal in the Army's history. Aberdeen is a training and weapons-testing site 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
A crucial point for both sides is how broadly the trial judge, Col. Paul Johnston, will define rape in his instructions to the jury. Simpson already has admitted to improper consensual sex with 11 female soldiers.
Last week, Johnston ruled that jurors could consider that rape occurred even in the cases of women who did not say "no" at the time, because of the power drill sergeants have over the trainees they command.
Simpson's lawyers say Simpson engaged only in consensual sex, and that the women did little or nothing to resist.
Testimony ended Tuesday, after eight days during which prosecutors sought to show that Simpson abused his authority by allegedly forcing female trainees at Aberdeen's Ordnance Center and School to have sex with him.
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