Monday, November 23, 2009

U.S. soldier found guilty of abusing subordinates in Iraq

By Joe Sterling, CNN

Sgt. Jarrett Taylor was convicted at a special court martial
He was found guilty of making false statements, cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates
Charges stem from investigation of soldier's suicide

(CNN) -- A U.S. military court demoted and jailed a soldier for mistreating troops in Iraq, behavior discovered during the investigation of another soldier's suicide.

Sgt. Jarrett Taylor, 23, of Edmond, Oklahoma, was convicted at a special court martial at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, that ended on Friday, the military said.

He was found guilty of making false official statements and cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates.

The soldier was reduced to the rank of private, sentenced to 180 days in confinement and ordered to forfeit $933 in pay for the next six months, the military said.

Taylor was among four Multi-National Division South soldiers who were charged with cruelty and maltreatment of soldiers in their platoon, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, MNF-South spokesman in Basra, told CNN in an email Saturday. All were from the 13th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

The charges, filed August 19, stemmed from information discovered during an investigation of Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm's suicide in August.

Olson said Taylor and the other three officers were in supervisory positions over Wilhelm, a 19-year-old from Plymouth, Ohio.

"It is unclear if Sgt. Taylor's actions contributed to Pvt. Wilhelm's decision to take his life," Olson said.

"As for morale, we believe that Sgt. Taylor's behavior was isolated to a single platoon. Sgt. Taylor was immediately removed from his supervisory duties as soon as the allegations were discovered during the initial investigation in Pvt. Wilhelm's death."

The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred at Forward Operating Base Hunter in Maysan Province in southern Iraq.

The other soldiers charged are Staff Sgt. Enoch Chatman, 30, of West Covina, California, and Staff Sgt. Bob Clements, 29, of Eastland, Texas. They are subject to a future court martial, the military said. Spc. Daniel Weber, 24, of Frankenmuth, Michigan, was discharged in lieu of a court martial, according to the statement.

Olson said in August that the soldiers were accused of engaging in "verbal abuse, physical punishment and ridicule of subordinates." He described the physical punishment as falling into the category of "undue calisthenics."

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Blog Editor's note:

Within our support group for families, we observe that this type of bullying and misuse of power is pervasive in U.S. Military Services and contributes to non-combat deaths in various ways.

In the U.K. and in other countries around the World, families have set up websites which directly address bullying by its name and document it in the Military.

Military hierarchy is the perfect milieu for bullies and lack of oversight allows it to be rampant. Enlisted military personnel have little recourse when victimized by superior officers and gangs of military personnel exercising group mentality in targeting individuals.

It is a positive development that the Army has addressed this in this case. It is also positive, in my opinion, that they have not covered up the investigation.


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