19 more counts dropped by Army in Aberdeen sexual misconduct case But 58 charges remain against former instructor

April 09, 1997|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

The Army yesterday dropped more criminal charges against Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson, further shrinking what was once a 148-count case against the Aberdeen Proving Ground drill instructor to 58 charges just days before his court-martial begins.

Of the 19 counts dropped yesterday, two were rape charges that involved the same number of female soldiers. Simpson, 32, faces 19 rape allegations involving six female recruits -- down from a high of 11 women he was accused of raping when a pretrial hearing started last month.

More than half of the charges filed against Simpson since October have been removed in the past two weeks. Defense attorneys and Army prosecutors have characterized the shrinking case as "narrowing of the battlefield."

On Monday, Simpson pleaded guilty to 16 counts of violating the Army rule prohibiting relationships between soldiers of a different rank. He could serve 32 years in prison on those counts. If found guilty of a single rape charge, he faces the possibility of life in jail.

Simpson arrived at Aberdeen's Ordnance Center and School as a drill instructor in January 1995, a decade after he completed advanced infantry training at the post.

His case is the biggest filed against 11 Aberdeen soldiers who have been charged with crimes since last year when Army officials detailed a broad sex scandal involving male soldiers and their students at the Army post.

The case has triggered a militarywide investigation to eliminate sexual misconduct in the ranks.

Capt. Edward W. Brady, Simpson's lawyer, has argued that the Army inflated charges against Simpson to make it appear he commited more crimes than have been alleged by 22 female recruits.

Last week, Col. Paul Johnston, a military judge, agreed and dismissed 19 charges of serious sexual misconduct against the 13-year Army veteran. He ruled that the Army had charged Simpson with essentially the same crimes under two laws.

Army prosecutors also agreed last week to drop an additional 35 charges that were associated with more serious crimes on Simpson's charge sheet. They said the move was a way to focus the case for what is expected to be a complicated trial that could last as long as six weeks.

The charges dropped yesterday, which included indecent assault, battery and robbery counts, involved four female soldiers once posted at Aberdeen. This morning Johnston, prosecutors and lawyers will continue picking what will likely be a 10-member military jury.

Opening statments in the case are scheduled for Friday.

Pub Date: 4/09/97

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