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Army rape case in hands of jury


Prosecutor says drill sergeant had 'license to be mean'

April 24, 1997
Web posted at: 7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT)

ABERDEEN, Maryland (CNN) -- A military jury deliberated for two hours Thursday in the court martial of an Army drill sergeant accused of 19 counts of rape.

Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, 32, is the first of 12 trainers charged in the sexual misconduct scandal that erupted at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The case went to the jury Thursday afternoon at the completion of closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.

The prosecutor, Capt. Theresa Gallagher, told the jury, "this is a case of rape. This is a case of Simpson using his power, his easy access, and his ability to control -- an unscrupulous drill sergeant grossly misusing his position to force his sexual attentions on his trainees."

The prosecution spent about an hour and a half reviewing the facts of each of the alleged rapes, stressing that the victims either resisted or were too intimidated to say no. Gallagher told the jury that Simpson told his victims no one would believe them if they reported the assaults.


"He created an environment of fear, intimidation and control. It was his license to be mean, to be the company asshole. The accused is a mean, arrogant and manipulative person, who used his control over trainees to his own selfish ends."

Simpson contends women were willing

Simpson admits to having sex with five of his six accusers, and earlier pleaded guilty to 11 counts of improper sexual intercourse with trainees. But Simpson, who has pleaded not guilty to the rape charges, contends that the women were willing partners.

Defense attorney Frank Spinner argued Thursday that the women are now lying to protect themselves from charges of improper sex with drill sergeants.

He called the idea that Simpson had complete control over the female soldiers "ludicrous." He suggested the women submitted to Simpson to curry favor with him and are now testifying out of revenge because they did not receive favorable treatment.

"Convict him of stupidity for not giving special treatment, but don't convict him of rape," said Spinner, pointing his finger at Simpson.

Defense: Conviction will undermine authority


Spinner argued that convicting Simpson simply on the word of the alleged victims would undermine the authority of military commanders.

"Who has the power now, the drill sergeant or the trainee? If drill sergeants say, 'Run up that hill,' privates are going to say, 'You sexually harassed me,'" Spinner said. "This is a real risk you run if you find drill sergeant Simpson guilty."

The judge, Col. Paul Johnston, told the five men and one woman on the jury that they must consider evidence presented by Simpson's attorneys that four of the women consented to sex.

He said they could consider whether Simpson abused his authority in deciding whether the alleged victims had a reasonable belief that resisting him would be futile or that their resistance was overcome by a fear of death or great bodily harm.

Military law states that physical force isn't required to prove rape; "constructive force," which can include threats or intimidation, is sufficient.

Court-martial rules require four of the six jurors to agree on any guilty verdict.

Simpson faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted of rape and a total of 32 years, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay and allowances for the counts to which he has already pleaded guilty.

Testimony in the trial ended Tuesday after eight days.

Military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.


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