View Full Version : Marines caught in sex scandal

02-21-04, 02:47 PM
Marines caught in sex scandal

Incident in Kuwait has put careers on the line; lieutenant faces prison

By Rick Rogers

February 21, 2004

CAMP PENDLETON – A Marine lieutenant faces a possible 26-year prison sentence in connection with an alleged sex-and-alcohol incident in Kuwait City in May while deployed for the Iraq war.

Three officers and one sergeant have been punished or are awaiting disciplinary action. One of the officers, a lieutenant colonel, could lose his career for failing to report the incident.

All but the lieutenant colonel were members of a public affairs office sent overseas to help promote the Corps' role during the conflict, said Capt. Kristen Lasica, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton.

The officer subject to the most serious charges, 1st Lt. Tara Burkhart, 31, is accused of having sex with a married enlisted man, allowing other Marines to drink at a private party and other offenses.

Her attorney says she was raped.

Marine officials did not release the names of all the charged Marines, saying military policy is not to identify people facing administrative punishment, which is considered a confidential matter.

Prosecutors declined to comment directly on the case but released information through base headquarters in response to questions submitted in writing. Other details emerged in testimony during a court hearing this week.

Here is what the government alleges happened May 15-16:

An employee of a television station in Kuwait invited the Marines – all members of the 1st Force Service Support Group based at Camp Pendleton – to a party at his apartment as a thank-you for helping him get TV coverage of the Marines during the war.

Before leaving for the party, Burkhart, the ranking Marine in the group, allegedly told the other Marines that alcohol would be available, but that they should drink responsibly. At the time, possession and consumption of alcohol violated standing orders from the U.S. Central Command.

At the apartment, they showered, had drinks and ate before going to a pool party, but first they stowed their weapons and ammunition under a bed.

At the pool party, the group reportedly drank and socialized for about four hours. Around midnight they returned to the apartment.

Early on May 16, the prosecution says, Burkhart had consensual sex with a married sergeant, identified in court as Sgt. Jose Montes.

The alleged incident was brought to the attention of authorities by another officer who was with that group of Marines, Lasica said.

After two investigations, Burkhart was charged with adultery, sodomy, fraternization with an enlisted person, wrongfully allowing her subordinates to drink alcohol, allowing subordinates to leave their weapons in the apartment, indecent language and other offenses.

If convicted on all charges, she could be sentenced to 26 years and six months in prison.

In a statement, Camp Pendleton officials explained why Burkhart is facing the most serious charges.

"While she was in a leadership position, she is alleged to have committed a number of offenses that led to disciplinary action against her subordinates.

"Her role in the alleged misconduct," the statement continued, "greatly exceeded that of the other Marines. The other officer present is the one who came forward to report the incident and received punishment commensurate with his role."

Attorney David M. Brahms, Burkhart's civilian attorney, said his client alleges she was raped by Montes. However, Brahms said that because of rape trauma syndrome, the lieutenant had blamed herself for months after the encounter.

The investigations, including one in November after Burkhart's rape allegations, did not result in a charge of rape or assault against Montes.

"Neither of those were criminal investigations," said Brahms, a retired Marine brigadier general, "and we have plenty to say on the subject as to the sufficiency of these inquiries."

The prosecution wants to give Montes immunity in exchange for his testimony, Brahms said.

He promised he would fully explore Montes' role during Burkhart's trial, which is expected to start in mid-March. A preliminary hearing was held at Camp Pendleton in November.

Montes has pleaded guilty and received non-judicial punishment for adultery and wrongfully consuming alcohol. He was reduced one rank and forfeited some pay, according to base officials.

On Tuesday, military judge Lt. Col. Steven Immel heard motions in the Burkhart case to dismiss charges, produce witnesses and suppress evidence.

Burkhart testified at the hearing, as did Capt. Neil Anderson, who conducted the initial investigation, and a former Marine who served with Burkhart.

David Christian, 34, a former sergeant who worked for Burkhart, said that while the group, which included one civilian journalist, was heading back to the apartment from the pool party, Burkhart said she felt like having sex.

"Here we are, all men in the vehicle and we had all consumed alcohol and we had all been away from our significant other for a long time," said Christian, who left the Marine Corps and is not facing charges. "I thought it was inviting trouble."

Anderson, who investigated the allegations last June in Kuwait, said other Marines also told of "indecent language" by Burkhart.

Brahms said Burkhart's language was not indecent for Marines and that Christian's concerns amounted to sexism.

Anderson said Burkhart "seemed surprised" when he interviewed her in early June and told her that she was suspected of conduct unbecoming a Marine officer.

During two interviews, Anderson said, Burkhart admitted to acts with which she was later charged.

Anderson said Burkhart sobbed and said "she knew she had done wrong." He said she said nothing about being assaulted.

Burkhart testified that she thought she had no choice but to cooperate with Anderson.

She didn't grasp, she said, what she was doing when she waived her rights to have a lawyer present during questioning and agreed to write a statement.

"I felt like that is what I had to do," Burkhart said, choking up during her testimony. "I think you are saying that I am smarter than that. But I'm not."

The lieutenant colonel faces a charge of dereliction of duty for allegedly not reporting the incident. A board of inquiry will determine whether he may remain in the Marine Corps.

A second lieutenant, the officer who reported the incident to authorities, has already faced non-judicial punishment for consuming alcohol and failing to ensure that Marines kept control of their weapons. His promotion has been delayed.

Rick Rogers: (760) 476-8212; rick.rogers@uniontrib.com




02-21-04, 03:06 PM
Geez! What a mess.

02-21-04, 07:28 PM
Now it's left to a court to decide who's guilty and who innocent of the charges.
Now a question might be:
Was the sex consensual or was she rape as she says.
Men and Women, alcohol and being away from their significant others, is trouble.
As this case brings out.
Another senior Marine Officer most likely will be discharged and charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly not reporting the incident.
I agree with namgrunt, "What a mess"!
But is it new news?
This jars memories of Vietnam, a Marine Officer, I served under, once told me that a Military Police Officer, he could charge a great number of women in and around Danang of sex crimes.
many of us enlisted looked and named all the round eye women "Officer Country".
Than there's a story about an Army nurse, who had sex with an enlisted in Vietnam, she lost her virginity in that sex act.
Later she ran into that enlisted Sergeant and reminded him that he had taken her virginity.
His remark, "So What"?
In all our wars there's been sex between men and women in our arm forces, some with the highest ranking Officer, Ike Eisenhower comes to mind.
That was swept under the rug.
Yet as Marines, were held to higher standard of conduct.
On that subject of higher standard of conduct, these words should have been thought of by that Lt. Colonel;
"Another suggestion I strenuously reject
is that we should sweep as much dirt as we
can under the rug. Eli, five words stuck in
my mind that night last June when I
became keeper of the Marine Corps Color:
courage … devotion … compassion …
honesty … and integrity. If I learned
nothing else from the Augustinian
Fathers at Villanova, those last two words
made an indelible impression, for without
honesty and integrity, the others are
~ General Paul Xavier Kelley ~
The 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Semper Fidelis

02-21-04, 07:52 PM
I can see one sure reason why General Kelley became Commandant. Fine words.

Thanks MillRat.

02-21-04, 08:13 PM
After the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebenon

02-21-04, 08:40 PM
After the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, some leaders in Congress suggested that the Commandant take a low profile.
Letting a less Officer to take the heat from any investigation.
Resulting on the words by General Paul Xavier Kelley
The 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps ;

"I would hope that the Congress would use this incident of cruel and premeditated mass murder to help us determine ways to tell
nations that they cannot export and support terrorists who kill innocent Americans with impunity. The perpetrators and supporters of this challenge to the rights of free men
everywhere must be identified and punished.
I will have little sleep until this happens."
~ General Paul Xavier Kelley ~
The 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps

"Another suggestion I strenuously reject is that we should sweep as much dirt as we can under the rug. Eli, five words stuck in
my mind that night last June when I became keeper of the Marine Corps Color: courage … devotion … compassion …
honesty … and integrity. If I learned nothing else from the Augustinian Fathers at Villanova, those last two words
made an indelible impression, for without honesty and integrity, the others are meaningless."
~ General Paul Xavier Kelley ~
Another later on on visiting some of the wounded from that bombing;
Sometime shortly after the Beirut bombing in 1983, then–Commandant of the Marine Corps General Paul X. Kelley was visiting a wounded Marine in the hospital. The lad shook the Commandant's hand and then scribbled the words "Semper Fi" on a piece of paper. It was the Marine's way of saying "Semper Fidelis." Gen Kelley became emotional and said,
"Lord, where do we get such men?"

Semper Fidelis

02-21-04, 10:40 PM
No glib one-liner fits here.
We are fortunate as a nation to have such leadership in at least one branch of the services. I can only hope we never run out of such men. If we do, the nation will have died already.

Semper Fi!

02-22-04, 01:51 AM
With all the charges against 1st Lt. Tara Burkhart, one could almost get a law degree.
Had to do some research on one charge.
Just by it's very nature, it has to be consensual.
I bet all parties involved in this mess, wish that they relive it.
Many lifes will ne ruined because of some stupidity.
The reporter that supplied the alcohol, what is his responsibility for all this mess.
Now I'm wondering was 1st. Lt. Tara Burkhurt married.
I'm sitting here just shaking my head of the stupidity of it all...

Semper Fidelis

02-22-04, 02:10 AM
Must clear a point on General Ike Eisenhower;

Days of Summersby
D'Este delves into Eisenhower's wartime relationship with Kay (Kathleen) Summersby, a beautiful young Irish woman. The general first met her when she was assigned to be his driver in London in 1942.

At Eisenhower's request when he was in North Africa, she was dispatched to go there to resume her driving duty for him. After her fiance, an American major, was killed by a land mine, Eisenhower strove to console her.

Later, when Eisenhower was back in London, she worked for him as a driver and a secretary, plus spending much leisure time with him. A reporter observed that he had never before seen a driver get out of a vehicle in the morning and go kiss a general.

Rumors about Eisenhower's relationship with Summersby spread, reaching the GIs serving under him as well as Mamie back in the States. He assured her he was not being unfaithful.

In a memoir she wrote after the war Summersby said she and Eisenhower had a full-blown romance minus sex. Whatever the full story, it seems clear she provided him companionship he greatly needed in trying times.

Yet by it's very nature a romance between an Officer and an enlist has to be fraternization.
Seeing that he was the Allied Supreme Commander, it wasn't made news.
Yet it was common knowledge, but the world had bigger problems to deal with.
Does sex have to be involved before a charge of fraternization is made?
Inquiring minds want to know...
A romance with out sex, is that like smoking, but I didn't inhale...

Semper Fidelis

02-22-04, 10:34 AM
I hate beating a dead horse, but I was discussing this case with my better half.
When I told her that 1st. Lt. Tara Burkhurt was being charged with sodomy.
She said "that ridiculous"!
So with that I went doing some research on female sodomy, under the State of Georgia legal statues, oral sex could be considered sodomy.
1st. Lt. Tara Burkhurt's most serious charges under the UCMJ would be;
Article 134
Article 125
Article 134
Dereliction of Duty;
Article 92
Disobedient of a Lawful Order;
Article 90
I believe all the other charges would fall under Article 134 of the UCMJ.
Adultery, Sodomy, Fraternization, Dereliction of Duty, could these charges been brought on Bill Clinton?
When he and Monica had those sorry affairs in our White House.
But men and women in politics are held to another standard than those that serve in the military.
We would be remissed if one did not comment on the why of these charges.
Seeing what happened in the other services with the scandals and how they were handle or not handle.
The Marine Corps must deal with this out in the open, to maintain high moral standards in the leadership of the Marine Corps
This strikes at the heart of not only moral core of values but also at Marine Corps Core Values.
The Marine Corps, I'm sure would rather deal with some else than these scandals...

Semper Fidelis

02-22-04, 03:21 PM
I don't think she would have been in as much trouble if the party had taken place in Georgia, whether sodomy was involved or not. I think the use of alcohol in an Islamic country, contrary to orders for conduct, is what got her into dutch.