Recruits testify sex was forced 2 witnesses recount circumstances of alleged rapes at APG

April 15, 1997|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Two former Army trainees testified in choked voices yesterday that Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson pinned them down and raped them in his barracks office -- the first detailed public look at allegations at the heart of the Aberdeen Proving Ground sex scandal.

According to the women's vivid and discomforting testimony, Simpson used physical force -- not the power of rank -- to have sex with them.

"I told him, 'No,' " one woman, a 22-year-old Army National Guard specialist, testified at Simpson's court-martial. "I told him to stop. I was crying."

Later she said, "I didn't know what he was going to do because he was so mean beat me, hit on me, kill me. I was scared."

The women also described an Army post gripped by a gossipy obsession with sex. Some drill sergeants -- tough during formation, flirtatious in private -- allegedly kept a tally of sexual conquests known as "the list." And some female soldiers used roommates to meet higher-ranking men they thought were "fine."

A third soldier, whom Simpson is accused of pursuing, said she wasn't offended when he tried to kiss her in her room.

"I just laughed," said the 22-year-old Army specialist from Virginia. "Because after the first two weeks there were already rumors about people having sex with drill sergeants, about this person sneaking out, this person was fine, stuff like that."

Simpson, 32, faces 58 criminal counts, including 19 allegations of rape involving six female soldiers once posted at Aberdeen. He could face life in prison if the military jury finds him guilty of even a single rape charge.

His case is the largest the Army has brought against any of the 12 black Aberdeen soldiers charged since last fall. The case has prompted a militarywide investigation of sexual misconduct in the ranks, as well as concern from civil rights groups that the Army investigation may be motivated by race.

The majority of the alleged victims at Aberdeen are white, reflecting the ethnic breakdown of students at the Ordnance Center and School.

Simpson has admitted having consensual sex with 11 female soldiers.

National Guard specialist

But one of those soldiers testified yesterday that the sexual contact was rape. (The Sun does not print the names of alleged victims of sexual abuse.)

The two met a few months after the National Guard specialist from Missouri arrived at Aberdeen.

The woman said that after a disagreement, Simpson "started to pick on me." By March 1995, she'd had enough and went to his office to confront him.

"The door was open and I walked in and I just said, 'Hey look, I don't appreciate what you are doing.' I didn't call him drill sergeant or use any military bearings. I just told him off," she testified.

The next thing she knew, she said, Simpson was coming toward her. He started kissing her, while she twisted her head from side to side, and eventually pushed her into an adjoining room and onto a bed. There, she said, the 6 foot 4 inch Simpson held her arms together with one hand above her head, undressed her with his other hand, and raped her.

"It hurt because it was so rough and I didn't want it," she said.

After the alleged incident, she said, Simpson told her not to tell anyone. He said he knew she was having a sexual relationship with Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Moffett, who was charged last month with 10 counts of sexual misconduct. Army rules prohibit relationships between soldiers of different rank.

Two weeks later, the soldier said, she told Sgt. 1st First Class Tony Cross, who wanted to report Simpson. But she persuaded him not to because she was set to leave the post and "knew the whole thing with Sergeant Moffett would come out."

She did not report the incident to police.

Soon after, she said, she began a consensual sexual relationship with Cross, who was charged last week with 17 crimes involving four recruits.

Frank J. Spinner, Simpson's civilian lawyer, asked the former trainee why she didn't scream while the alleged rape was occurring. She said she was scared.

Defense lawyers told the military jury during opening statements that no hard evidence links Simpson to the alleged crimes.

"You will not see a shred of physical evidence of rape or sexual assault," Capt. Edward W. Brady told the panel. "Why? Because it doesn't exist."

Second alleged victim

The second alleged rape victim, a 21-year-old from Alabama, is awaiting discharge after going ab- sent without leave from Fort Hood, Texas, her assignment after training at Aberdeen in September 1995.

Simpson was known as a tough taskmaster, but privately would make small talk, she said.

"He would ask me little stuff, like who was dating who, who liked who," she said. "He would always flirt."

Her alleged rape came after Simpson, whose office was two stories above the women's barracks, caught her coming from the bathroom after bed check, she said.

He ordered her to his office.

Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, she waited on his office couch. When he arrived, she said, he leaned down and started kissing her roughly on the mouth.

"I begged him to stop," said the woman. "That's when he put his hand over my mouth."

She said Simpson held it there while she was raped.. "There was not a whole lot I could do. He was too strong."

The list

She did not report the alleged rape to police, or tell her two roommates.

"I didn't want to be on his list," she said.

"What do you mean 'his list'?" asked Capt. Dave Thomas, an Army prosecutor.

"That's what we heard when we got there. That Drill Sergeant Cross and Drill Sergeant Simpson had a thing going to see who could get the most women."

Simpson's lawyers are expected to question the woman today.

Pub Date: 4/15/97

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