An Army drill sergeant was cleared Friday of charges he had consensual sex with a trainee, one day after rape charges against an Army captain were dropped in a plea agreement.
The two resolutions could bolster allegations that Army investigators in some cases pushed for rape charges in cases of consensual _ albeit improper _ sexual relations between instructors and recruits.
Staff Sgt. Nathanael C. Beach, 32, was found innocent of all charges of sexual misconduct after a hearing at the Aberdeen training school.
"On this case, I would have to say they bit off more than they could chew from the beginning," said his attorney, Capt. Vincent Avallone. "Maybe they wanted to be better safe than sorry."
Beach pleaded guilty to violating orders by talking to an accuser during the investigation and was found guilty of violating a military regulation by telling a trainee to write his research paper.
An attorney for another instructor facing rape charges said Thursday's plea bargain by Capt. Derrick Robertson suggests commanders know they overreached in their zeal to punish sexual misconduct.
"Maybe this is the beginning of the government starting to accept that while inappropriate behavior has gone on, it was not the type of behavior the government first represented it to be," said Capt. Edward Brady, who represents Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, 31.
Beach was found innocent of having sexual intercourse with a subordinate, fraternization, adultery, communicating a threat and making a false statement to investigators, said his attorney. He was fined $1,900, which was suspended provided he stays out of trouble for six months. It was also recommended that he be removed from a promotion list.