Trial opens in Marine recruits abuse case

Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- A Marine drill instructor slapped, beat and ridiculed nearly all 40 recruits in his platoon for two months, showing a “complete disregard and contempt” for rules that ban such maltreatment, a military prosecutor alleged Tuesday.

Sgt. Jerrod Glass, 25, a two-tour Iraq veteran, was an honor graduate from drill instructor school, but when he became a D.I. he ignored the rules on how to train Marines, Capt. Christian Pappas told a military jury at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

But defense attorney Capt. Patrick J. Callahan said most of the allegations were false. He said the charges were lodged after a senior officer pressured young Marines to say incriminating things about Glass so he could make an example of him in a court-martial.

Still, Callahan conceded that Glass, as the junior drill instructor -- known as the “kill-hat” -- was ordered by other drill instructors to get tough with the platoon, which was considered soft. The defense lawyer argued that by punishing Glass, the tribunal would undercut the ability of future drill instructors to instill the toughness and discipline required of Marines in combat.

Glass faces 11 years imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge if convicted on all 10 charges. His case is being heard by a panel of three officers and three senior staff noncommissioned officers.


With 485 drill instructors on base, 44 have been punished in the last three years for offenses involving mistreatment of recruits. The case against Glass, however, represents the most egregious set of charges in years.

Pappas told the jury that Glass had struck recruits with flashlights and tent poles, choked a recruit, made recruits drink water until they vomited and repeatedly referred to a Latino recruit with a homophobic slur in Spanish.

Only when Glass repeatedly hit a crying recruit over the head with a flashlight did another recruit report the abuse to a senior drill instructor, Pappas said. Glass was taken off duty and an investigation was launched.

Prosecutors indicated that they will call a top officer to show that news coverage of the Glass case has hurt the Marine Corps’ ability to attract recruits.

Glass’ parents, Jerry and Barbara Glass of Phoenix, sat in the front row during opening statements. Their son, trained as a military dog handler, attended drill instructor school after his second tour in Iraq.

Barbara Glass told reporters that her son seemed changed by his second tour in Iraq. “He was more quiet, reserved; he doesn’t talk about it,” she said.