Former drill sergeant guilty of rape
April 29, 1997
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (CNN) -- A former Army drill sergeant was found guilty Tuesday of 18 of 19 counts of rape in the first court-martial in the Aberdeen Proving Ground sex scandal.
A military jury returned its verdict for Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, 32, five days after deliberations began. The case went to the jury Thursday afternoon at the completion of closing arguments by the prosecution and defense. The jurors deliberated about 30 hours before reaching the verdict.
Simpson was charged with raping six women a total of 19 times. He faces a maximum of life in prison. He already faces up to 32 years in prison for admitting to consensual sex with 11 trainees -- a violation of Army rules -- and to five other charges.
The sentencing phase of the trial is to be held later.
Prosecutors said Simpson forced female trainees into having sex in 1995 and 1996 by intimidating them with his hulking 6-foot-4 frame, superior rank and threats. Defense lawyers argued that the women willingly had sex with Simpson, then lied about it to protect their careers.
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 is the central figure in the biggest sex scandal in Army history. The scandal at Aberdeen has resulted in criminal charges against 12 soldiers at the base and prompted an investigation at Army installations worldwide.
"This is a case of the accused 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 trainees," prosecutor Capt. Theresa Gallagher said in closing arguments Thursday.
Defense attorney Frank Spinner told jurors, "If you convict Sgt. Simpson, you'll be sending a message out to the Army that no drill sergeant is safe."
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