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DOCUMENTS: JUDGMENTS RANDOM IN MILITARY SEX-CRIMES

Monday, 10 February 2014 10:54 Published in National News

TOKYO (AP) — At U.S. military bases in Japan, most service members found culpable in sex crimes in recent years did not go to prison, according to internal Department of Defense documents. Instead, in a review of hundreds of cases filed in America's largest overseas military installation, offenders were fined, demoted, restricted to their bases or removed from the military.

In about 30 cases, a letter of reprimand was the only punishment.

More than 1,000 records, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, describe hundreds of cases in graphic detail, painting a disturbing picture of how senior American officers prosecute and punish troops accused of sex crimes. The handling of allegations verged on the chaotic, with seemingly strong cases often reduced to lesser charges. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial and dropped the charges instead.

Even when military authorities agreed a crime had been committed, the suspect was unlikely to serve time. Of 244 service members whose punishments were detailed in the records, only a third of them were incarcerated.

The analysis of the reported sex crimes, filed between 2005 and early 2013, shows a pattern of random and inconsistent judgments:

—The Marines were far more likely than other branches to send offenders to prison, with 53 prison sentences out of 270 cases. By contrast, of the Navy's 203 cases, more than 70 were court-martialed or punished in some way. Only 15 were sentenced to time behind bars.

—The Air Force was the most lenient. Of 124 sex crimes, the only punishment for 21 offenders was a letter of reprimand.

—Victims increasingly declined to cooperate with investigators or recanted, a sign they may have been losing confidence in the system. In 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which handles the Navy and Marine Corps, reported 13 such cases; in 2012, it was 28.

In two cases, both adjudicated by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, the accusers said they were sexually abused after nights of heavy drinking, and both had some evidence to support their cases. One suspect was sentenced to six years in prison, but the other was confined to his base for 30 days instead of getting jail time.

Taken together, the cases illustrate how far military leaders have to go to reverse a spiraling number of sexual assault reports. The records also may give weight to members of Congress pushing to strip senior officers of their authority to decide whether serious crimes, including sexual assault cases, go to trial.

"How many more rapes do we have to endure to wait and see what reforms are needed?" asked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., chair of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee. She leads a vocal group of lawmakers from both political parties who argue that further reforms to the military's legal system are needed.

Air Force Col. Alan Metzler, deputy director of the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said the department "has been very transparent that we do have a problem." He said a raft of changes in military law is creating a culture where victims trust that their allegations will be taken seriously and perpetrators will be punished.

The number of sexual assault cases taken to courts-martial has grown steadily — from 42 percent in 2009 to 68 percent in 2012, according to DOD figures. In 2012, of the 238 service members convicted, 74 percent served time.

That trend is not reflected in the Japan cases. Out of 473 sexual assault allegations within Navy and Marine Corps units, just 116, or 24 percent, ended up in courts-martial. In the Navy, one case in 2012 led to court-martial, compared to 13 in which commanders used non-judicial penalties instead.

The authority to decide how to prosecute serious criminal allegations would be taken away from senior officers under a bill crafted by Gillibrand that is expected to come before the Senate this week. The bill would place that responsibility with the trial counsel who has prosecutorial experience.

Senior U.S. military leaders oppose the plan.

"Taking the commander out of the loop never solved any problem," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the personnel subcommittee's top Republican. "It would dismantle the military justice system beyond sexual assaults. It would take commanders off the hook for their responsibility to fix this problem."

Gillibrand and her supporters argue that the cultural shift the military needs won't happen if commanders retain their current role in the legal system.

"Skippers have had this authority since the days of John Paul Jones and sexual assaults still occur," said Lory Manning, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Women in the Military Project. "And this is where we are."

___

Lardner reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Leon Drouin-Keith in Bangkok and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Mississippi beats Missouri 91-88

Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:02 Published in Sports
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson does not have the green light to take a 3-point shot. He has no light.
 
"I heard some guy behind me in the front row telling me to shoot it," said Henderson, who scored 29 points on eight 3-point shots in Saturday's 91-88 win over Missouri. "That's all I need to hear."
 
The Rebels (16-7, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) needed everything Henderson provided — 10 of 18 from the field, 8 of 15 from 3-point range and five assists — to record what Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy admitted, "a game we absolutely had to have. Marshall hits big shots."
 
Ole Miss enhanced their hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid with the win, with home dates remaining against Kentucky and Florida. The Rebels are 27-10 with a .729 winning percentage in SEC play since 2012, trailing only Florida for the league's best mark.
 
The Rebels remained alone in third place in the league standings and won for the third time in four meetings with Missouri (16-7, 4-6) over the past two seasons. The past two wins for the Rebels were turned on the game's final possession.
 
"Huge. Just huge. It's the only time we play them (Missouri) during the regular season," Henderson said. "They're a quality club with a high RPI and we needed it. I was able to get some good looks, but we had big games from everybody today."
 
Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White had 16 points apiece, while Anthony Perez added 11. The Rebels won the rebounding battle, 44-43, including game-high performances of 11 and 10 rebounds from Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz, respectively.
 
Despite trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half and 50-35 at halftime, Missouri put on a furious second half rally. Earnest Ross led the Tigers with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists and missed a 28-foot shot at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.
 
Ross was complemented by Jordan Clarkson with 23 points, Jabari Brown with 20 and Ryan Rossburg with 11, all in the second half.
 
"I thought the difference was our post players didn't compete well in the first half and their press bothered us," Missouri coach Frank Haith said.
 
"In the second half, we took better care of the basketball and our effort was there."
 
The Tigers pulled within two points on four occasions, but Henderson responded three times with a 3-point shot or an assist. Missouri's made another late surge to get within 79-78 on a 3-point shot by Brown with 3:18 left.
 
Ole Miss outscored Missouri 6-0 in the following minute, all by Summers, and built a seemingly insurmountable 91-83 lead with 19 seconds remaining. Missouri scrambled within 91-88 and forced a turnover with 0.9 remaining, setting up a final opportunity for Ross.
 
"There were times I felt like we were just blowing them out by the way we were shooting," Henderson said. "Then you'd look up and they were right there. Every game comes down to the wire for us. We embrace hard. We know it's going to be that way."
 
The loss was the third straight for the Tigers, who have lost consecutively to the top three SEC teams — Kentucky, Florida and Ole Miss. Despite the loss, Missouri remains a factor in the title chase with five of the next seven games at home.
 
Ole Miss shot 50 percent (29 of 58) from the field and 48.3 percent (14 of 29) from 3-point range. Missouri shot 47.5 percent (28 of 59) from the field and hit 11 3-point shots, led by Ross with five.

Oshie, Tarasenko lift Blues past Jets, 4-3

Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:01 Published in Sports
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in a shootout to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
 
The crowd chanted "USA! USA! as Oshie skated in on Al Montoya and beat him. Tarasenko then scored, giving the Blues the victory in their final game before the Olympic break.
 
Blues goalie Brian Elliott stopped Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd in the tiebreaker.
 
Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaden Schwartz scored in regulation for the Blues, 15-0-1 against Central Division rivals. They are 22-5-3 at home and 39-12-6 overall.
 
Mark Scheifele scored twice, and Dustin Byfuglien added a goal for Winnipeg.
 
It was the fourth consecutive overtime game for St. Louis.
 
St. Louis was 0 for 8 on the power play and has failed to score in its last 20 chances.
 
The Blues improved to 3-1 this season against the Jets, winning the last three with each game was decided by a single goal or in a shootout.
 
Schwartz scored on a backhander from the slot to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead 34 seconds into the third period. Schwartz has three goals and three assists in a four-game points streak.
 
Byfuglien tied it on a power play with 6:17 left.
 
St. Louis scored first. Morrow took a drop pass from Tarasenko and snapped a wrist shot from the left circle at 7:39 of the first period.
 
Winnipeg tied it on Scheifele's goal at 12:33. From behind the net, Devin Setoguchi found Scheifele in front of the crease and Scheifele slid it by Elliott.
 
St. Louis regained the lead when Roy scored on off an assist from Morrow with 2:22 left in the period. It was Roy's first goal in 25 games since Dec.12 against Toronto.
 
Scheifele tied it at 2 midway through the second.
 
NOTES: Blues D Jordan Leopold left in the first period and did not return. ... St. Louis D Barret Jackman played in his 700th game. Only Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744) have played more games for the Blues than the former No. 1 draft choice. ... The 10 Blues player selected to play in the Winter Olympics were honored in ceremony before the game. Nine Blues are headed to the games. F Vladimir Sobotka will miss playing because of a leg injury. ... The Jets are sending four players to the Olympics ... With the win, coach Ken Hitchcock went past Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman on the Blues' career victories list. Bowman was 110-83-45 with the Blues from 1967 to 1970. The Blues are 111-44-15 under Hitchcock.

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