Soldiers Claim Accusers Are Liars

Aberdeen Recruits Were Attracted To Sergeant, They Say

April 22, 1997|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Several female soldiers who trained at Aberdeen Proving Ground testified yesterday that two of the women Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson is accused of raping at APG had a reputation for lying and for being sexually attracted to the drill sergeant.

Testifying on the second day of Simpson's defense, Pfcs. Davina Scott and Tonya Richard described as a "compulsive liar" one 21-year-old soldier whom Simpson is accused of raping five times last year.

The two privates also said the soldier pursued Simpson by wearing halter tops, "short shorts," and other revealing outfits when she visited his office, where many of the crimes are alleged to have occurred.

"She said he was sexy and she would have sex with him if the opportunity presented itself," said Scott, 21, who was the alleged victim's roommate from June to September. "I said, `You go, girl, because you know you can get promoted faster.' "

The testimony was offered on the seventh day of the court-martial, as Simpson's defense continued to challenge the alleged victims' honesty and the Army investigation's fairness. Simpson's lawyers are expected to conclude their case today.

Simpson, 32, has been charged with 54 criminal counts that include 19 rape allegations. An Aberdeen drill sergeant since January 1995, Simpson could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of a single count of rape.

He is one of 12 Aberdeen soldiers charged in a scandal that has provoked a military-wide investigation into sexual harassment in the ranks. Four Aberdeen sergeants remain under investigation.

One of those sergeants is a woman -- Staff Sgt. Deborah Clinton, called in by Army investigators last week for fingerprinting and questioning. Clinton, a former drill sergeant, is suspected by the Army of failing to obey an order and socializing with trainees, which is prohibited by Army rules.

Also, Staff Sgt. Deland Talley was suspended Friday from his duty as drill instructor with Charlie Company, 143rd Ordnance Battalion, pending an investigation prompted by testimony from the Simpson court-martial. Last week, a female private testified that Talley knocked on her door while Simpson was performing unwanted sex to warn him to "hurry up" because a superior was in the barracks.

Simpson, whose wife has begun attending court daily and sitting behind him in the gallery's first row, has admitted to having sex with 11 female trainees at Aberdeen, including five of the six alleged rape victims.

The issue of race -- which has troubled the Aberdeen case since it was announced publicly in November -- also was raised in testimony yesterday.

All 12 soldiers charged with crimes are black, while the majority of the alleged victims are white. Simpson's lawyers have stated publicly that there are "racial overtones" to his case.

Yesterday, Pvt. 1st Class Carnesia Jones, who is black, testified that her roommate, a 20-year-old white private whom Simpson is accused of raping twice last summer "told me [Simpson] had a sexy bald head" during one of the women's first meetings.

"She also said if the chance was given to her she would have sex with Drill Sergeant Simpson," Jones testified.

But Jones said that after Labor Day last year, the private told her that Simpson raped her. Jones gave her a hug and the soldier started to cry. Jones testified that the woman told her: "[He] is going to get exactly what he deserves."

In yesterday's testimony, the Ordnance Center and School was portrayed as fraught with rivalry among female trainees. Cliques emerged around drill sergeants, including Simpson, who was said to allow a group of trainees to visit in his office and watch television.

His clique, which included Scott and Jones, sent Simpson a card and audiotapes after he was charged and sent to the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., in September. Scott and Jones said they had few clues that Simpson was having sex with trainees until told by Army prosecutors.

"I didn't want to believe it, sir," Jones testified yesterday.

Although yesterday's testimony raised questions about the credibility of two alleged victims, the defense has done little to undermine the stories told last week by four other trainees who claimed Simpson forced them -- physically or through rank -- into sex.

The defense has called 11 witnesses so far and plans to call 20. One of today's expected witnesses is Capt. Derrick Robertson, who was Simpson's commanding officer last year.

Robertson is serving four months at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas after pleading guilty last month to having consensual sex with a female soldier, who first approached the captain with complaints about Simpson.

Pub Date: 4/22/97

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