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Lawyer: Alleged Rape Victim Declared AWOL

November 6, 2004

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) _ A lieutenant in the New Jersey National Guard _ sent home after she was allegedly raped on a Mississippi base _ has been declared absent without leave in an attempt to force her to return to her old unit, her lawyer charged.

Attorney Frederick Klepp said the Army has not responded to his proposal that the lieutenant be allowed to report to a New Jersey base to avoid prosecution. She would then begin the process of leaving the Guard, Klepp said.

The woman told The Oregonian newspaper she met the alleged attacker Aug. 8 at a bar at Camp Shelby, where she was stationed. The man also is an officer in the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

She refused an invitation to his quarters and turned down his request to go home with her, she said.

He persisted, she said, and followed her home and turned up in her room, where he allegedly raped her.

She said the Army initially did not want to grant her convalescent leave. A base chaplain, however, helped persuade authorities to let her return to her New Jersey home. Klepp said she has been in counseling.

``I completely do not trust anything military at this point,″ she told the newspaper.

But she has since learned that until she returns to her unit, she can be prosecuted in military court for being AWOL. ``That’s just out of the question,″ Klepp said of her return.

Capt. Brett Carter in the judge advocate general’s office at Camp Shelby refused to comment to The Oregonian, which first reported the story Friday. ``She is being processed for being AWOL″ while the investigation continues, he said. ``We’re diligently working on it as quickly as we can.″

A spokeswoman for Camp Shelby did not immediately return a call Friday from The Associated Press.

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