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Category: Military crime

June
20th

JBLM using outreach and discipline to address rising numbers of military sex assaults

A fast-developing sexual assault prevention program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has the Army mustering up new victim advocates, spreading a “zero tolerance” message down the ranks and cracking down on misbehavior in the barracks.

It’s intended to reverse a rising number of reported military sexual assaults across the Armed Forces that is fraying relationships among service members and causing lawmakers to consider changes to the Army’s justice system.

“When you have sexual assault in the military, it breaks down the fabric of trust in our organization,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, who this week canceled training activities

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June
5th

Staff Sgt. Bales: “There’s not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did”

2:20 p.m. update: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will not face the death penalty when an Army jury decides his punishment for massacring 16 Afghan civilians, an Army judge said today.

Bales’ maximum penalty will be life without a chance for parole, Judge Col. Jeffery Nance said in court today when he accepted Bales’ guilty plea.

The agreement lays the groundwork for an Aug. 19 sentencing trial where Bales’ attorneys hope put the March 2012 massacre in the context of the soldier’s experiences over four combat tours. Factors including Bales’ reported post-traumatic stress and a past concussive head injury could help

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June
3rd

Defense attorney for Army killer Sgt. John Russell argues troubled troops deserve better care

Nearly every time I write about the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province, I get calls from readers who argue the Army should drop its charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

They feel that Bales was a hero for serving with honor on three previous deployments to Iraq with Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. They believe his actions can be explained somewhat by the psychological toll those tours of duty took on the 39-year-old father of two. (They can find info about how to help Bales here.)

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May
29th

JBLM’s Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to plead guilty to killing Afghan civilians

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians last year plans to plead guilty to the killings next week, his attorney said today.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales hopes to avoid the death penalty if his plea is accepted, Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne told The Associated Press.

The News Tribune reached Browne as he was entering Lewis-McChord today and he could not talk.

The plea hearing is set for next Wednesday, an Army official told The News Tribune.

Bales must give a full account of the killings and persuade a judge that he

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May
16th

Sgt. John Russell sentenced to life without parole for killing five at Baghdad clinic

An Army judge on Thursday handed down the toughest sentence he could to a soldier who murdered five fellow service members at a Baghdad combat stress clinic four years ago.

Sgt. John Russell will serve life without parole for shooting to death two care providers, two patients and an escort at the clinic in Baghdad’s Camp Liberty on May 11, 2009.

“You are not a monster,” Army Judge Col. David Conn said at Russell’s sentencing, according to Reuters. “But you have knowingly and deliberately done incredibly monstrous things.”

“Sgt. Russell, you have forced many to drink from a bitter cup.

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May
8th

Sergeant who killed five troops at Baghdad clinic grew paranoid in weeks leading up to slayings

Sgt. John Russell grew increasingly paranoid in the days before he killed five fellow U.S. service members at a Baghdad combat stress clinic, soldiers who knew him testified today.

His belief that his unit was trying to kick him out of the Army was one of the reasons his commander, Capt. Mark Natale, referred him to counseling instead of disciplining him for an insubordinate, expletive laden outburst in early May 2009.

If he could go back to that moment, Natale would not be so generous.

“If I would’ve known what I know now, I probably would have zip-tied his (butt)

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May
7th

Survivor of Baghdad fratricide saw gunman’s boots and knew “it’s one of our people”

Sgt. Dominic Morales still hears an “evil chuckle” in his nightmares.

He remembers it as the frightening laugh Sgt. John Russell emitted just before he shot another helpless, unarmed soldier in the face inside a Baghdad combat stress clinic four years ago.

The victim “didn’t have a weapon. He was just a sitting duck,” Morales testified today at the second day of Russell’s court-martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Russell, 48, has already pleaded guilty to killing a Navy commander and four soldiers at the  Camp Liberty combat stress clinic on May 11, 2009. He’s on trial facing a life sentence

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May
7th

Murray proposal would reform military sex assault trials, empower prevention office

Sen. Patty Murray today is introducing a bill to curtail military sexual assault by offering more support to victims and explicitly prohibiting certain unethical behavior, such as having sex with new recruits.

Murray, a Washington Democrat, is submitting the bill with New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. They’re timing the release of the bill with a Defense Department report coming out today detailing a rise in military sexual assaults in 2012.

An early copy of the Defense Department report obtained by USA Today shows that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault last year, up from 19,300

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