An American sailor who was presumed dead following a huge man-overboard search, but was then found to have hidden below deck for almost a week, is to face possible court-martial charges.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims, 23, from Interlachen, Florida, was thought to have been lost at sea on June 8 while his guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh was operating in the Philippine Sea.

After a six day search of the open ocean, he was discovered on-board and to have been hiding in the own ship’s engine room.

Forces from the US and Japanese navies conducted a 50-hour search over 5,500 square-miles before the rescue was reluctantly called off at midnight on June 11.

However, four days later, the gas turbine systems technician was located alive and well, although the circumstances of how he survived undetected for seven days still remain murky.

This week, he was brought to a brig this week in San Diego where he will be dealt with by his superiors.

 

June 16, 2017.

The Navy’s top lawyer — Vice Adm. James Crawford III — illegally urged a fellow military leader in San Diego to convict a potentially innocent SEAL of sex crimes, according to a newly filed affidavit by a junior Navy attorney.

The document escalates an already unusual case about whether senior commanders hijacked justice amid what they saw as growing political pressure in Washington, D.C., to be tougher against sexual-assault crimes in the military. The SEAL, who has served his prison sentence, is appealing the ruling in a bid to clear his military record and restore his reputation.

Dated June 5 and filed this week as part of the sailor’s appellate motions, the affidavit was signed by Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Dowling, a former staff attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s Office for Navy Region Southwest. Dowling alleges that his former boss, now-retired Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, and Crawford exerted unlawful influence after the 2015 court-martial conviction of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Keith Barry.

Under military law, senior leaders can nix court-martial verdicts if they consider them unjust — a power that has come under increasing criticism in Congress in recent years as rape and other serious criminal convictions were tossed out by the brass.

Barry was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge, but he has never stopped declaring that he’s innocent. His court-martial involved a brief romance he had with a civilian woman: In court, she said Barry raped her while he said she later lied about their consensual relationship as a way to get even after he quit dating her.

Lorge retired as commander of Navy Region Southwest in late 2015, months after he let the court-martial conviction against Barry move forward.

According to Dowling’s affidavit filed on Thursday with the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Lorge said Crawford “told me don’t put a target on my back. He said I have smart lawyers, let them figure it out.”

In his own affidavit filed on May 5, Lorge claimed that Crawford urged him to not “put a target on my back.” He also wrote that without Crawford’s pressure, he wouldn’t have allowed Barry’s sexual-assault conviction to stand.

According to another military attorney advising Lorge, Lt.Cmdr. Leah O’Brien, he told her that Crawford had warned him: “If you disapprove the findings in this case, it will ruin your career,” according to her affidavit.

The Navy recently transferred Dowling from San Diego to Washington, D.C., and he could not be reached by The San Diego Union-Tribune for comment. Navy Region Southwest officials said they didn’t know O’Brien’s current location, either.

The Navy is weighing whether to scrap Barry’s conviction or send the issue back to San Diego for second review by an admiral who has never been involved in his case.

“This affidavit removes any doubt that the very top leaders in the Navy (Judge Advocate General’s office) committed unlawful command influence,” said David Sheldon, Barry’s attorney in Washington, D.C. “It confirms that not only is there smoke, there is a conflagration burning out of control.

“It is, without question, time for the conviction of Senior Chief Barry to be overturned and for the judge advocate general of the Navy to resign. Admiral Crawford’s actions are devastating to the fairness of the military justice system. They undermine the most basic tenets of military justice and demonstrate a complete disregard for Senior Chief Barry’s rights,” Sheldon added.

Citing the ongoing appeal, Navy officials in both San Diego and Washington, D.C., declined to comment.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A military judge properly tossed a soldier out of the Wisconsin Army National Guard for soliciting sex from young recruits, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeals in the case of former Sgt. Jesse Riemer says it’s the first time a Wisconsin state court has dealt with a court martial. A law that calls for court-martial convictions to go to the state appellate courts apparently had never been triggered before Riemer asked for a review of his sentence.

According to court documents, military prosecutors accused Riemer of soliciting sex from multiple young female recruits between 2012 and 2014. The allegations included soliciting threesomes, suggesting to one of the women that he should take a picture of a tattoo on her buttocks, broadcasting sex he had with one of them on the internet and maintaining a relationship with another while he was married, according to the documents.

He pleaded guilty to six counts of using his rank for personal gain, maltreatment of a subordinate and discrediting Wisconsin’s military forces. Military Judge David Klauser sentenced him to 30 days confinement and a bad-conduct discharged. Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Donald Dunbar upheld the sentence.

Riemer argued the sentence was unduly harsh and Klauser was biased against him.

Riemer argued the court should apply federal military law to the case and give no deference to the sentencing judge’s decision. The state appeals court refused, saying Wisconsin judges lack military judges’ knowledge and expertise and it wouldn’t be practical to apply military standards.

The court ruled 3-0 that the military judge’s sentence was appropriate. He could have gotten a maximum sentence of five years and three months confinement along with a dishonorable discharge, the court noted.

Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg wrote that the military judge also gave a reasonable explanation for the sentence. She cited his comments that as a recruiter Reimer had a responsibility to represent the Wisconsin National Guard well. Riemer instead took advantage of his position and used it to prey on vulnerable young people who were trying to find an identity for themselves, the judge said.

Riemer’s attorney, listed in court documents as Illinois Army National Guard Capt. Declan Benninger, didn’t immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on the ruling.

Soldiers on active federal military duty are subject to federal court martials but can ask federal courts to review those decisions. A mix of states have their own military appellate courts for soldiers not on active federal duty, such as National Guardsmen; others, including Wisconsin, handle military appeals in state courts.

According to a 2007 article in the Army Lawyer, a publication by the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General School, 16 states provide for appeals in the state system. Wisconsin passed its law in 2008, making 17. Two dozen states didn’t permit civilian court appeals. Eight of those states had a military appellate forum.

Regardless, it’s rare to see National Guard soldiers appeal their punishments, military justice experts said, mostly because the stakes are relatively low compared with the federal system, where punishments can include death sentences.

“They’re not unheard of, but they remain very infrequent,” said Eugene R. Fiddell, who teaches military law at Yale University. “There simply aren’t that many cases. The punishments tend to be very modest.”

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Thursday said one service member could face a court-martial and another has been discharged following the military branch’s nude-photo-sharing scandal reveal in March.

Neller told Senate Armed Services Committee lawmakers that 65 individuals were identified in the scandal — in which service members allegedly shared nude photos of female Marines and veterans in the private Facebook group “Marines United,” — and that 59 were sent to their commands for possible disciplinary or administrative action.

Of the 59 individuals, seven have received non-judicial punishment, 20 have received “adverse administrative actions,” and one Marine has been administratively separated.

The service is also planning an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial on one suspect, but Neller did not say if it was a Marine.

“I’ve gone personally, as all of my leaders have gone, and spoken to literally tens of thousands of Marines and made them understand what their responsibilities are and I think more importantly . . . the social media things that we’ve seen have been — were just indicative of a problem within our culture that we did not properly respect or value the contributions of women in our Corps and that’s the problem we have to fix,” he said.

Neller was responding to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who asked for an update on the scandal and was critical of the Marines’ punishment of those found responsible for the 30,000-member Facebook group.

“You know which photos are posted; you know where they came from; there are evidentiary trails to be made,” Gillibrand said.

“So I wouldn’t say that it’s likely that these are cases where they couldn’t prove their case. I think it sends the wrong message. If you’re not taking these crimes seriously as an enormous disruption of good order and discipline, I fear that it’s not going to change behavior.”

Neller, in turn, stressed that he understands the concerns and said that the investigations are ongoing.

“We’re still in the process, this is not over and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I understand your concern and I’ll get back to you as we further progress in this process.”

Since the scandal broke, both the Senate and House have backed legislation that makes sharing nude photos within the military a crime.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) along with Republican Sens. Dean Heller(Nev.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa), are leading the Senate push for the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Against Technological Exploitation (PRIVATE) Act, which would amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to make the non-consensual sharing of intimate photos a punishable offense.

The House passed the bill, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), in May by a vote of 418-0.

 

June 14, 2017

Lt. Col. Humphrey Daniels III was sentenced on Wednesday to three years of confinement and dismissal from the Air Force after a court-martial found him guilty of charges including rape.

Daniels, of the Air Force District of Washington at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, was convicted of raping a civilian woman at or near Minot, North Dakota, in 1998.

Daniels was also found guilty of one charge and one specification of dereliction of duty for taking classified materials to his home and leaving them unattended, and one charge and three specifications of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for lying to Fairfax County, Virginia, police several times in December 2014.

In addition, Daniels was convicted of one specification of conduct unbecoming for misrepresenting to a colonel the basis for his request to be placed on emergency leave status.

He was found not guilty of another specification of conduct unbecoming for wrongfully impeding the investigation, Lt. Col. Brus Vidal, spokesman for the Air Force District of Washington, said in an email.

The panel of eight officers delivered the verdicts on Monday.

In addition to his confinement and dismissal, Vidal said Daniels will receive a reprimand. He will not be reduced in rank, Vidal said, because that is not an option for officers.

Vidal said that the dismissal will also preclude Daniels from receiving retirement benefits, if it is upheld after all appeals are exhausted.

Daniels’ court-martial began June 5 at Andrews.


Lt. Col. Humphrey Daniels III
Photo Credit: Air Force

 

 

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A significant portion of court-martial proceedings for Marine Corps personnel since the start of 2017 have included charges involving the sexual abuse of children, according to Department of Defense data reviewed by Task & Purpose, further detailing the growing scourge of child sexual abuse that’s marred the armed forces in recent years.

According to general and special court-martial disposition overviews of judicial proceedings published by Headquarters Marine Corps each month since January, nearly 18% of cases involved sexual assault or abuse of a child, attempted sexual assault or abuse or a child, or the possession, solicitation, distribution or production of child pornography.

Of the 23 Marines brought up on charges, only two were acquitted. The rest faced punishments ranging from forfeiture of all pay and allowances and reduction in rank to dishonorable discharge and 15 years confinement. Many of the cases included multiple charges.

How the child-abuse problem among Marines compares to other branches remains unclear. When reached by Task & Purpose, a Marine Corps public affairs officer declined to comment. The Department of the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General and Office of the Secretary of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A 2016 investigation by the Associated Press revealed 840 substantiated instances of sexual abuse of “military dependents” committed by enlisted service members between 2010 and 2014, according to a 286-page Naval Criminal Investigative Service report obtained by the AP. Officers were reportedly involved in 49 cases.

A previous AP investigation in 2015 revealed that 61% of the 1,233 inmates confined in the military’s prison network at the time had been tried and convicted of sex crimes — and in 133 of the 301 cases (44%) that occurred between January and November 2015, children were victims.Despite the worrying statistics, the perceived increase in courts-martial among Marines may actually signal better prevention. In February, the DoD issued a directive expanding policies and responsibilities regarding child abuse prevention and family advocacy programs at various military facilities to increase reporting on instances of abuse. And according to Darkness to Light, the child sexual abuse-prevention program of choice at Marine Corps Base Quantico, implementation of that directive may have increased visibility and judicial treatment of the crisis.

“The directive didn’t just come down for FAP [Family Advocacy Programs] to provide prevention training that included child abuse, but created a requirement to report,” Darkness to Light communications director Gwendolyn Bouchie told Task & Purpose. “A lot of this was once handled on base or locally, but now it’s been made clear that if there’s a report to be made, it must be made to law enforcement or child social services or whoever.”

But that duty to report doesn’t always translate into judicial action. While the sexual assault of children is explicitly prohibited under Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (child pornography falls under Article 134), the opaque military justice system has faced difficulties in appropriately addressing the growing crisis of sexual abuse in the Corps’s ranks.

One arises from the new reporting structure: While the DoD has pursued state-level policies to encourage civilian law enforcement to report suspected abuse to the military (15 states have adopted such measures), a June report from Stateline.org indicated that the potential career-ending ramifications of an investigation induce military families to close ranks, keeping reports from reaching civilian authorities in the first place.

And even when service members eventually face court-martial, the outcome of their proceedings is murky. As the AP’s 2015 investigation noted, military judges are not permitted to review pretrial agreements offered to defendants in exchange for a guilty plea. In civilian courts, judges have the “final say” on any plea bargain, as the AP put it, but in military courts, suspected abusers “always get the lesser sentence.”

Rates of child abuse among military families have rapidly outpaced the rates among civilian families in the last 15 years, according data from the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at UCLA and Duke University, an increase that coincides “with the post-9/11 rise in overseas military operations and deployments and the return of service members with physical and behavioral health issues.” Given that the Navy and Marine Corps have maintained a wartime operational tempo despite drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s likely that military communities are now experiencing the consequences.

“Military families are more vulnerable, especially in deployments with a single parent or someone acting as a single parent, stationed somewhere with a lack of support and forced to rely on people outside their innermost circle,” Bouchie told Task & Purpose. “If you compare branches and chart deployments and operations against rates of abuse, you’ll likely see some correlation there; when deployments happen, these vulnerable situations are created.”

It’s unclear how far this problem goes, but the 23 Marine Corps courts-martial pursued so far this year may only be the tip of the iceberg. While not every perpetrator of child sexual abuse is a pedophile, some 70% of child sex offenders have “between one and 9 victims,” according to Darkness to Light; another 20% of offenders have 10 to 40 victims, suggesting that countless other victims of American military personnel are languishing in silence.

Most recently, decorated Marine Col. Daniel Wilson was in November 2016 slapped with three charges of  sexual assault and sexual abuse of a child in, removed from his duty post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and confined to the brig while NCIS investigators explored unrelated sexual abuse allegations.

The victim was reportedly 6 years old.

Lieutenant Nicholas Robinson told a court martial that the woman performed a striptease for him and ‘very much took the lead’.
A ROYAL Navy officer who denies raping a female sailor claimed she did a lap dance for him during which she rubbed her breasts in his face. Lieutenant Nicholas Robinson told a court martial they went to her hotel room in Bahrain after a party  attended  by scores of Navy personnel.

He said she danced for him, removing all her clothes except her knickers, then offered to give him a “special” dance.

Lt Robinson, 28, said: “She very much took the lead — she unbuckled my trousers and took her knickers off.”

The prosecution say sex was not consensual and he forced himself on her.

Lt Robinson denies rape and  sexual assault at Portsmouth Military Court. Trial continues.

Criminal cases involving accused rapists and a sailor who allegedly stole women’s panties and tried to grope a sleeping shipmate are percolating up military courts in San Diego and at Camp Pendleton.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Irving, a member of the Coronado-based SEAL Team 5, faces court-martial — the equivalent of a civilian trial — for allegedly raping a civilian woman in San Diego in October 2015.

Court documents provided to The San Diego Union-Tribune show that he’s accused of pinning the woman’s hands behind her head and pinning her wrists before sexually assaulting her. The court docket released on Monday doesn’t indicate when Irving will next appear before a judge, but a trial scheduled for the previous week was canceled, according to Navy officials.

At Camp Pendleton, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Luis Gonzalez-Salazar is charged with forcing sexual acts upon his wife in Okinawa between Oct. 12 and Dec. 13, 2015 after threatening to divorce her, take custody of the couple’s children and upload graphic images and videos of her to the internet.

In four incidents, the women were sleeping in their berths when Hernandez allegedly tried to grope them.

On numerous occasions, he also allegedly spied on nine sailors while they were sleeping and later wrote “about sexual activity” with them, according to the charge sheet issued against him on Sept. 20.

Between February and June of 2014, he allegedly stole 11 items of female underwear from the Snyder Hall laundry area at Naval Base San Diego.

Military.com | 10 Jun 2017 |

A Marine Corps drill instructor accused of hazing and mistreating recruits aboard Parris Island, South Carolina, has pleaded guilty at a summary court-martial, officials with Marine Corps Training and Education Command said.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Bacchus pleaded guilty to violation of a lawful general order and maltreatment, but not guilty to false official statement at the Wednesday hearing, TECOM spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena told Military.com. He was convicted only of the charges he pled to.

Bacchus was sentenced only to 60 days’ restriction, Pena said. He will not, however, lose rank or be forced out of the Corps.

He is the second of six drill instructors to face court-martial on charges related to two separate investigations of hazing within Parris Island’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. The outcome of his trial was first reported Friday by Marine Corps Times.

On May 25, Sgt. Riley Gress was acquitted at a special court-martial on charges of violation of a lawful general order, cruelty and maltreatment, and false official statement.

Both Bacchus and Gress’ charges were in relation with a 50-page investigation that described recruits being forced to conduct physical training in “the Dungeon,” a dusty and airless abandoned squad bay. It also contained accounts of recruits being forced to fight each other while drill instructors watched, and multiple episodes in which recruits were called profane names and humiliated.

Two more drill instructors have yet to face trial on charges related to that investigation: Staff Sgts. Jose Lucena-Martinez and Antonio Burke.

Another two drill instructors are set to be tried in connection with an unrelated incident in which a Muslim recruit was allegedly thrown into a dryer and interrogated. Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix and Staff Sgt. Michael Eldridge will face courts-martial at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for alleged involvement with that incident.

By Francis Okoye,  Maiduguri
The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army Court-martial sitting in Maiduguri has sentenced Lance Corporal Hilary Joel to death on a lone count charge of murder for setting one Wowi Lawan ablaze in Damboa local government area of Borno State.
The Court-martial also sentenced one Private Chima Daniel to 15 years improsonment  for aiding and abetting the murder of 13-year- old  Yakubu Isa, by torturing him with grinded pepper untill he died on allegation of stealing a phone belonging to his colleague.
In the same vein, Private Sunday Oguche bagged 7 years on two count charge of unlawful possession of 641 rounds of militry bullets and stealing of a mobile phone worth N45,000 belonging to a fellow soldier.
Similarly, one Sgt Samuel Balanga was demoted to from his rank of Sergeant to Private for desertion of his duty post at 158 battalion in Kareto in Northern Borno for 43 days to Gombe , as well as abandoning a Militry RPG in his custody during Boko Haram attack, Corporal Audu Aliyu was demoted to the rank of private for assaulting three minors , Babale Mustapha 13 , Sani Mustapha 12 and Yakubu  Isa by flogging them with “Dogon Yaro” stick on allegation of stealing a phone belonging to his colleague .
The president of the Court-martial, Brig Gen Olusegun Adeniyi, while delivering Judgement , said the accused soldiers were found guilty in all the charges levelled against them , adding that the Nigeran Army does not tolerate the act of indicsipline and disregard for established rules in execution of the war against Insurgency in the Northeast.
Adeniyi however, urged Militry detainers to release the duo of sergeant Samuel Balanga now demoted to private and Corporal Audu Aliyu demoted to private from detenton since the Judgement did not dismiss them from the Army.
“ These cases are now concluded​ subject to the confirmation by the Military Authority and the court-martial is hereby adjourned to a later date that will be communicated to parties,” said Adeniyi.