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Family of murdered gay soldier sues U.S. Army for wrongful death

us gay
 

April 26, 2000
Web posted at: 2:19 a.m. EDT (0619 GMT)


In this story:

Suit charges Army failed to stop harassment

Soldiers couldn't dial 911 from barracks

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The family of a gay soldier murdered by a fellow soldier because of his sexual identification has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Army.

A lawyer for the family told CNN that the suit asks $1.79 million from the Army for lost wages and pain and suffering.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

Army Private Barry Winchell was beaten to death with a baseball bat by another soldier who objected to his sexual orientation. The murder occurred at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on July 5, 1999. Winchell, 21, was attacked as he slept in his bunk.

Winchell
Winchell was beaten to death with a bat as he slept in the Ft. Campbell barracks on July 5

Private Calvin Glover was court-martialed and sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder. Army Specialist Justin Fisher, who encouraged Glover to attack Winchell, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the murder.

Suit charges Army failed to stop harassment

The lawsuit contends that "The Army ... bears responsibility for the key circumstances that led to Winchell's death" and failed to take action to halt ongoing harassment.

His murder "was the culmination of many months of taunting and harassment of him by fellow soldiers in his unit, including in several instances NCOs (non-commissioned officers), on the basis of perceptions that he was gay," the suit says.

The suit also points out that Glover, who was 18 years old at the time of the murder, was drunk while underage and under the supervision of Army superiors.

Soldiers couldn't dial 911 from barracks

When Winchell was found in his bunk, bleeding and dying, soldiers were unable to dial 911 from the barracks because the phone system did not allow outside emergency calls. The soldiers had to find a pay phone to call for emergency services. The Army says that problem has been corrected at the base, the Army says.

Army Secretary Louis Caldera ordered a review of the incident and the command climate at Fort Campbell at the time of the murder. The results of that Army inspector general investigation are scheduled to be completed by May 1.



RELATED STORIES:
Army Inspector General to investigate harassment of gays
January 10, 2000
McCain, Forbes favor keeping 'don't ask, don't tell' policy
December 20, 1999
President seeks better implementation of 'don't ask, don't tell'
December 11, 1999
Fort Campbell soldier set for murder court-martial
December 6, 1999
Soldier allegedly confessed to killing
September 1, 1999
Pentagon issues new guidelines for gays in military
August 13, 1999

RELATED SITES:
U.S. Army
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
ACLU: Gay and Lesbian Rights
Gay Military Site
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