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Drill sergeant used his authority to get sex, prosecutor says

April 11, 1997

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (AP) _ As a drill instructor, Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson was respected and feared by his young trainees and he used that power to intimidate them into having sex, a government prosecutor said Friday.

``This was not consensual sex. There wasn’t any romance here. It was `Take off your clothes, lay down on the floor, stop crying.′ And after the sex, it was `Put your clothes on and leave,‴ Capt. David Thomas said in opening statements of Simpson’s court-martial.

But a defense lawyer said the 19 rape counts against female trainees and scores of other allegations against Simpson were lies by Army investigators or trainees who willingly had sex with Simpson.

``We will show you that a number of female soldiers-in-training were attracted to and willingly engaged in sexual intercourse with Staff Sgt. Simpson,″ Capt. Edward Brady told the military jury.

The defense said prosecutors had no physical evidence of rape, and were basing their allegations on statements the women gave under pressure to Army investigators. Brady said investigators ``aggressively and actively encouraged them to embellish their statements.″

Five current and former Aberdeen trainees have said investigators tried to pressure them into falsely claiming they were raped.

The prosecution’s first witness, Warrant Officer Paul Wiatr, Simpson’s supervisor from January through July 1995, said drill sergeants try to instill fear in trainees ``to teach them that when you’re told to do something, you do it.″

Under cross-examination, Wiatr said none of Simpson’s trainees complained about sexual abuse despite opportunities to do so anonymously or in private with a female drill sergeant. Prosecutor Capt. Theresa Gallagher said Simpson had ordered the women not to talk to the female drill sergeant.

Simpson’s case is the most serious arising from the Army’s investigation of sexual misconduct at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a weapons-testing and training center 30 miles northeast of Baltimore. He is one of 12 Aberdeen staff members charged in the probe, which has spread to military bases worldwide.

In addition to 19 rape counts, Simpson is charged with forcibly sodomizing, punching, grabbing or threatening trainees. He has pleaded innocent to 58 criminal allegations involving 22 current and former soldiers.

Simpson, 32, has already pleaded guilty to having consensual sex with 11 trainees in violation of an Army rule prohibiting personal relationships between supervisors and subordinates.

The Army identified the latest defendant, Sgt. 1st Class Tony Cross, 33, on Friday. The drill sergeant was charged with 17 offenses involving four female trainees, including sodomy, adultery and improper personal or sexual relationships.

Like the other 11 men charged and most of the drill sergeants, Cross is black. Most of the alleged victims are white, as are most of the school’s students.

Prosecutors are to begin calling alleged victims to the stand on Monday.

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