Simpson Receives 25-Year Sentence at Aberdeen Court-
By Gerry J. Gilmore
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, May. 8, 1997 Former Army drill sergeant Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson was sentenced May 6 to 25 years' imprisonment, loss of all pay and allowances, reduction to the lowest enlisted rank and a dishonorable discharge by a six-member military panel at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Simpson, 32, could have received life in prison after being found guilty on 18 of the 19 counts of rape and other misconduct charges he faced in a three-week-long military court-martial that ended April 29. Simpson originally was named in more than 50 sexual misconduct charges involving female trainees at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School during 1995-96.
Simpson's was the highest-profile case involving investigations into allegations of abuse of power and sexual misconduct that began last November at Aberdeen.
The panel of two senior sergeants and four officers took about 2 1/2 hours to decide the sentence. "The findings rendered today represent an important step in the Army's attempts to deal fairly and justly with the unfortunate abuse we uncovered in the training environment at the Ordnance Center and School," according to a prepared statement provided by Lt. Col. Gabriel Riesco, chief of staff at the school.
"The panel's findings confirm that Simpson used his access, power and control to take advantage of and manipulate young subordinates under his supervision," Riesco said. "The Army regrets that we did not detect and prevent reprehensible conduct sooner. We continue to strive to identify the systemic causes and to ensure these crimes are not repeated. We are confident that the military justice system has functioned extremely well, protecting the rights of both Simpson and his victims."
Simpson steadfastly maintained throughout the trial through his lawyers that he had raped no one, though he did admit he engaged in consensual sex with 11 female soldiers. Military prosecutors said Simpson used his drill sergeant position to intimidate trainees to have sex with him. Under military law, a soldier superior in rank can be accused of rape of a subordinate without having used actual violence or force.
Maj. Gen. John Longhouser, Aberdeen post commander and court-martial convening authority for Simpson's trial, will review the sentence, according to military legal authorities. Longhouser can either approve the sentence or reduce it; he cannot add to it.
Simpson will receive credit for previous incarceration at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., during the trial, military legal authorities said. He will serve any prison time at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Simpson's civilian defense attorney, Frank J. Spinner, decried the court-martial verdict and sentence. He objected to the Army's definition of rape, noted all 12 sergeants accused of sexual misconduct with trainees at Aberdeen are black, and said he planned to raise the issue before both Longhouser and on appeal.
"We intend to raise this issue however far and high we need to raise it," Spinner said. "I think the Army has a serious problem in terms of how it defines rape and how it deals with these issues."
The defense team decided not to have Simpson testify during the trial, said his military attorney, Capt. Ed Brady, who addressed the six-member jury before it went into deliberation. After his conviction, but the day before his sentence was handed down, Simpson provided an unsworn statement to the court, under the terms that he couldn't be crossexamined by the prosecution.
"While I do not fully understand your decision [guilty verdicts of rape], I fully recognize and accept my failures. I alone am responsible for my actions and accept the consequences," Simpson said in his statement.
Simpson acknowledged in his statement that he had "lost the privilege of wearing this uniform" and apologized to his mother and family. He also apologized to the Army.
"I apologize to all the drill sergeants who came before me, all with whom I had the privilege of serving and most of all, to all who will follow in the weeks, months and years after this trial," he said in his statement. "My actions brought dishonor to a most honorable calling.
"Finally, I apologize to the trainees who believe I brought them harm. I was your drill sergeant, and I failed you as a drill sergeant," Simpson's statement concluded. (AFPS)