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Sergeant apologizes at sentencing hearing for failure of ‘moral values’

May 6, 1997

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (AP) _ An Army drill sergeant convicted of raping six female trainees apologized to his family, colleagues, and those under his command but said he had no explanation for what happened.

``After I started down this path, I became blind to my inability to live by the moral values I learned from childhood,″ Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson told the court-martial jury Monday night.

He apologized to his wife, his two children, his fellow drill sergeants and ``the trainees who believe I brought them harm.″

``I was your drill sergeant and I failed you,″ he concluded. He did not admit that he raped the women; his lawyers had contended during the trial that any sex was consensual.

A six-member panel was to hear closing arguments today at Simpson’s sentencing hearing.

Simpson, 32, was to be sentenced on 18 counts of rape and 34 other offenses, mostly sexual misconduct. A single rape conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

His 61-year-old mother, Edna Simpson, on Monday begged the jury to be lenient.

``I would say to the panel, to the judge, please have mercy on my son,″ said Mrs. Simpson, of Chester, S.C.

An Army psychiatrist, Col. Raymond Lande, testified during the hearing that Simpson suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder.

People with such disorders place ``a great deal of importance on themselves at the expense of other individuals,″ and ``tend to feel they are entitled to certain things in life in terms of interpersonal relationships,″ Lande said.

The allegations against Simpson led to charges against 12 staff members _ all black _ at Aberdeen Proving Ground, 30 miles northeast of Baltimore. The claims also prompted investigations into sexual misconduct at U.S. military bases worldwide.

Earlier in the day, a lawyer for Staff Sgt. Vernell Robinson Jr., another Aberdeen sergeant charged with rape, accused the Army of targeting black men for prosecution.

``The command made a decision not to charge the students and is only going after African-American males,″ the defense lawyer, Capt. Art Coulter, said at a pretrial hearing.

Coulter asked the judge, Col. Paul Johnston, to dismiss five counts of consensual sexual intercourse with trainees because the women _ four white and one Hispanic _ were not charged with violating the Army ban on such relationships.

Johnston said he would rule on the dismissal request later.

And in Columbia, S.C., a former Fort Jackson drill sergeant accused of indecent exposure delayed entering a plea, hoping to avoid the intense media coverage of the sex scandals that have unsettled the Army.

Staff Sgt. Robert O. McLean was arraigned and could enter a plea before his June 11 court-martial, base spokeswoman Karen Soule said.

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