Army sergeant sentenced to 25 years for rape
May 6, 1997
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (CNN) -- An army drill instructor convicted of rape was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday, avoiding a possible life term. Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson will be eligible for parole in approximately eight years.
The same military jury that convicted Simpson last week on 18 counts of rape deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before announcing its sentence. Simpson also was demoted to the rank of private E-1, given a dishonorable discharge and ordered to forfeit all pay.
The sentence of the six-member panel will be automatically appealed. A single rape conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Prosecution: Life sentence 'is not enough'
During closing arguments earlier in the day, a prosecutor said Simpson should be sentenced to the maximum of life in prison to send a message to all drill sergeants "that what he did will not be tolerated.
In his closing arguments for the trial's sentencing phase, Prosecutor Capt. Dave Thomas called Simpson a sexual predator who was like an animal in the way he victimized the weakest soldiers under his command.
"If there was ever a case to ask for the maximum this is it," Thomas told the jury, arguing Simpson not only humiliated and sexually abused his victims but brought dishonor to the Army and has done irreparable harm to the reputation of drill sergeants.
"Even the maximum is not enough in this case," Thomas said.
Defense: Life term 'will accomplish nothing'
Defense attorneys countered that Simpson should be discharged from the Army, but not given a lengthy prison term, because he was never a threat to anyone but young soldiers.
"Sending Simpson to jail for the rest of his life will accomplish nothing," defense attorney Capt. Edward Brady said. "The first step toward rehabilitating a broken, humbled, defeated man is compassion."
The defense lawyer said the jury had already sent a message of deterrence with its guilty verdicts.
On Monday, Simpson took the stand for the first time in his court-martial to apologize to his family, colleagues, and the trainees. But he did not acknowledge he had committed rape.
"After I started down this path, I became blind to my inability to live by the moral values I learned from childhood," Simpson said.
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