Judge refuses to grant gag order against top officials in Aberdeen case

December 11, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

An Army judge yesterday rejected requests for a gag order on senior military officials in the criminal cases of two men charged with sexual misconduct at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Lawyers for Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson and Staff Sgt. Nathanael C. Beach argued that comments made by high-ranking officials might influence potential jurors and jeopardize their clients' right to a fair trial. They pointed to statements by officials, including Secretary of the Army Togo West, about thoroughly investigating allegations and prosecuting the cases to the fullest extent of the law.

But the judge, Col. Paul L. Johnston, said such a ruling would be a "drastic remedy that would unduly infringe on the constitutional rights" of senior officials.

Simpson's lawyer, Capt. Edward Brady, and Beach's attorney, Capt. Vincent Avallone, were disappointed with the rulings.

Charges against Simpson include rape, sodomy and sexual assault on women at the Army Ordnance Center and School. Beach is charged with adultery, obstructing justice and disobeying an officer.

They were arraigned last week, as was Capt. Derrick Robertson, who is charged with rape, adultery and sodomy.

The three men face separate courts-martial.

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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