New charges brought against Army sergeant Accusations include raping other soldiers

December 21, 1996|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN STAFF

An Army sergeant who is being court martialed for allegedly raping and sodomizing three female recruits at an Aberdeen Proving Ground school faces new charges of raping seven other female soldiers -- along with assault, robbery and extortion charges, officials said yesterday.

The 16 new counts against Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson, 31, a father of two who is married to an active-duty Army woman, involve 18 female soldiers at the Army Ordnance Center and School.

"I really don't have any comment on this," said Simpson's lawyer, Capt. Edward Brady. "Sergeant Simpson and I will have to sit down and take a look at this."

Simpson, who has maintained his innocence, is being held in the Marine brig at Quantico, Va., where he spends all day in a 6-by-8-foot cell, save for an hourlong "sunshine call" in the prison yard.

Along with the new rape charges, there are eight others, many with numerous counts. They include: five counts of assault and battery against two female soldiers, four counts of forcible sodomy against two female soldiers, and 15 counts of indecent assault with eight female soldiers.

He is also charged with extortion involving a female soldier and robbing a gold necklace from another.

The Army released no other details about the new charges against Simpson, who arrived at the school in January 1995. APG spokeswoman Rachel McDonald said the Army imposed its own gag order after defense attorneys complained to a military judge about pretrial publicity.

In November, Simpson and two other Aberdeen instructors were charged with a broad range of sexual misconduct -- allegations that triggered a probe into misconduct throughout the military.

Simpson, Capt. Derrick Robertson and Staff Sgt. Nathanael Beach face courts-martial next year on accusations from improper relationships with subordinates to rape. Another 15 sergeants have been suspended pending an investigation.

More than 50 women at Aberdeen say they have been victims of sexual misconduct at the training center during the past two years.

Army officials are puzzled how such a number of alleged abuses could have gone on for so long without higher-ups knowing about it -- until a recruit stepped forward in September and said she was raped.

"That's a good question," said Capt. Craig Minnick, an Army lawyer. "That's something the Army wants to know. Why didn't )) we find out about this earlier?"

Army sources contend, however, that when the courts-martial begin, a more complex picture will emerge of soured consensual relations -- relations prohibited between superiors and subordinates.

Simpson, a South Carolina native and 12-year Army veteran, is remembered by some as a strapping 6-foot-4-inch soldier with a no-nonsense attitude and 19 awards and decorations.

But he also ran into trouble at Fort Hood in Texas, where he was stationed prior to his Aberdeen assignment. Simpson was removed as platoon sergeant and reassigned as a squad sergeant after complaints that he gave favorable treatment -- time off or cushy jobs -- to female soldiers.

Also while at Fort Hood, Simpson received six months' probation after being charged with fleeing the Texas Highway Patrol, court records show, although no details were included.

Brady declined to discuss those issues.

Simpson's record at Aberdeen was spotless, officials say, until an incident in January when he jabbed a young soldier when she balked at his order to put her hat on. He was given a written reprimand for violating a prohibition on touching trainees and transferred to a different company.

The next step is for the Army to convene a hearing -- the military equivalent of a grand jury -- that could lead to additional court-martial charges or other disciplinary action.

As the sexual misconduct probe widens, the National Organization for Women has asked Rep. Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican, to resign from a House task force investigating the issue, arguing that his position as an Army Reserve major poses a conflict of interest.

"He is a link in the chain of command that has failed to protect female soldiers from sexual harassment and abuse," said Karen Johnson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and vice president of NOW.

Buyer's chief of staff, Kelly Craven, said it is unfair to judge him solely on his background. "It's almost like they're accusing him of guilt by association. He's very disappointed that this group won't even give him a chance."

Rep. Tillie Fowler, a Florida Republican and co-leader of the task force, sent a strongly worded letter yesterday to NOW President Patricia Ireland, saying that Buyer, a lawyer, is "highly qualified" to head the effort. His "legal and military credentials are beyond reproach," she wrote.

Pub Date: 12/21/96

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