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Sergeant accused in Aberdeen sex scandal speaks out

June 13, 1997
Web posted at: 12:20 p.m. EDT (1220 GMT)

In this story:

From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

ABERDEEN, Maryland (CNN) -- In an exclusive interview with CNN, an Army drill sergeant charged in the Aberdeen Training Center sex scandal said he's given up hope of getting a fair trial and accused the military of trying to make him a scapegoat.

Sgt. Tony Cross, a Gulf War veteran with a spotless 14-year record in the Army, is the first of the 11 drill sergeants charged in the Aberdeen scandal to tell his story publicly.

Cross faces court-martial on three counts of adultery, one count of consensual oral sex and nine counts of dereliction of duty for not turning in his friend and fellow drill sergeant Delmar Simpson.

In April, Simpson was sentenced to 25 years in prison on his conviction for raping six female trainees at Aberdeen.

Double-standard alleged


Maintaining that the accusations against him are "totally false," Cross told CNN he was charged because the Army considers him "the man who knew it all and was responsible for the breakdown in the chain of command."

Cross also is upset at what he sees as a double standard in the sex scandal. He's bitter that while he faces possible jail time, Aberdeen commander, Maj. Gen. John E. Longhouser, is being allowed to take early retirement after revealing an adulterous affair with a civilian woman while separated from his wife.
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"I don't have that option," Cross said.

He's not alone in perceiving hypocrisy at the highest levels. A recent CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of Americans believe the military has one standard for high-ranking officers and a second standard for everyone else.


Sgt. Mariana Shorter is another Aberdeen drill instructor who finds fault with the military's investigation of the sex scandal. While no women have been charged, it's not for lack of trying, Shorter told CNN.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Division "called me in and said they had a statement that a soldier wrote that we had consensual sex," she said. Later, however, "they said they lied ... it was a tactic they used."


Cross said similar strong-arm methods were used to coerce young female recruits into falsely accusing him of crimes.

A group of Aberdeen women complained about such tactics last March. "They wanted me to say I was raped," Pvt. Kelly Wagner said at the time. "But I cannot allow somebody to be prosecuted for something they didn't do."

Race questions


Shorter is convinced someone used the Army's special hot line for reporting sex offenses -- which she calls "1-800-REVENGE" -- to sic investigators on her unfairly. Now, "it's the drill sergeant who's intimidated" by trainees, she told CNN.
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The Army planned to discontinue the use of the hot line as of 6 p.m. EDT Friday, CNN has learned.

Cross said it's "ludicrous" that out of thousands of hot line calls and hundreds of criminal investigations "no one other than men of color have been charged."
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All of the Aberdeen soldiers facing court-martials are African American. Some white drill sergeants caught in the scandal received less severe administrative punishments. Both Cross and Shorter, who also is black, are convinced that racial bias is playing a role.

The Army has repeatedly denied that race was a factor in deciding who was charged.

Cross's hitch in the military expired months ago, but he's being kept in the Army so he can be prosecuted.

Asked if he would stay on if he is found innocent, Cross answered, "No way."

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