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Army Sergeant Is Cleared of All Charges of Sexual Abuse

From Reuters

An Army sergeant was cleared Monday of all charges in the latest court-martial linked to accusations of sexual misconduct at this military training base.

Judge Gregory Varo cleared Staff Sgt. George W. Blackley Jr. of charges that included failing to obey a general regulation, indecent assault, maltreatment and showing disrespect to a fellow noncomissioned officer.

Blackley, 34, of Spartanburg, S.C., pleaded not guilty to all charges. Neither he nor his civilian lawyer was immediately available to comment on the verdict.

Capt. Michael Formichelli, the lead prosecutor in the case, said Blackley’s actions had represented “an abuse of power and sexual depravity.”

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Prosecutors accused Blackley of fondling a woman recruit’s breasts at least twice in 1995. The woman, then 18, testified against Blackley at the court-martial Monday.

Blackley denied the incident had occurred and said he had never met the woman. His lawyer argued that it was a case of one person’s word against another’s.

Blackley was also accused of making an indecent tongue gesture to a female officer earlier this year, but the defense argued that Blackley suffered from a bad case of chapped lips, which caused him to lick his lips often.

Blackley was the third sergeant to be court-martialed here as a result of an investigation into trainees’ complaints of abuse, assault and harassment. The Army says the investigation is not related to the rape and sexual harassment probe underway at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

In the other two courts-martial at Ft. Leonard Wood, two sergeants were sentenced to confinement and demoted after each pleaded guilty to charges ranging from assault and battery to misconduct.

Loren Taylor admitted he had consensual sex with recruits and Anthony Fore said he touched several trainees’ breasts. Army regulations forbid all sexual relationships between commanders and subordinates.


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