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09-11-07, 09:11 AM #1
Recruit abuse may be broad, prosecutors say
Recruit abuse may be broad, prosecutors say
Two Marine instructors facing charges at depot
By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 11, 2007
SAN DIEGO – First, several San Diego drill instructors were accused of abusing so many recruits that it might very well be the Marine Corps' worst training scandal in modern times.
Now, military prosecutors say evidence suggests broader maltreatment at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot. They point to instances when at least one instructor allegedly condoned, if not encouraged, recruit-on-recruit violence.
The prosecutors made their newest assertions yesterday, when two recruit-abuse defendants underwent court proceedings at the boot camp.
One of those drill instructors, Sgt. Brian M. Wendel, was arraigned on charges including assault, maltreatment and dereliction of duty. He worked with Sgt. Jerrod Glass, who faces more than 220 counts of cruelty toward recruits based on allegations of abuse between late 2006 and early this year.
Wendel did not enter a plea. His trial was scheduled for Dec. 10 by judge Lt. Col. Eugene Robinson.
After Wendel's hearing, the court-martial for Sgt. Mark A. Delarosa took place in the same courtroom. His case is separate from the one involving Glass, Wendel and Sgt. Robert C. Hankins.
The charges against Delarosa include assault, maltreatment and making a false official statement.
Prosecutors contend that Delarosa took a “pain retains” approach to teaching young men how to become Marines. When his students erred, they said, he would inflict pain on them so they wouldn't repeat their mistakes.
“Sgt. Delarosa used this term when he was correcting his recruits,” said Marine Capt. Brent Stricker, a prosecutor.
One of Delarosa's former recruits, Jared Arvanitas, testified that his instructor once spit at him while ordering more exercise.
Arvanitas also recalled an instance in January when Delarosa kicked him hard enough to fracture his shin bone because he positioned his feet improperly during a drill.
“The guy pretty much made me dislike the Marine Corps,” Arvanitas said.
Delarosa and other instructors are accused of trying to cover up the incident by telling Arvanitas that his application to leave the Marine Corps could become lost if he did not cooperate with them.
“They injured me and then they tell me not to say anything about it and then they try to make deals with me. It didn't seem like an honorable thing,” Arvanitas testified.
As the court-martial continues today, other Marines are expected to testify that Delarosa assaulted them. One has said that Delarosa told him: “I hate you. I wish I could hit you all the time.”
Delarosa also allowed or inspired recruits to attack other recruits, Stricker said.
“By standing by and doing nothing, he became a participant in the assault,” Stricker told Robinson. Stricker said the government has evidence of such attacks and that a victim is scheduled to testify.
As of yesterday evening, Marine Corps officials had not responded to an inquiry regarding the frequency of recruit-on-recruit abuse.
During the past three years, about 45,000 recruits have graduated from the depot in San Diego, which is one of two boot camps for the Marine Corps.
In the same timespan, depot leaders have disciplined at least 44 drill instructors for misconduct involving recruits. The installation has about 480 drill instructors.
The vast majority of punishments were issued for violations of recruits' rights. Those rights include getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep except when serving guard duty, having 20 minutes to eat a meal and being able to attend scheduled religious services.
In addition, 50 drill instructors were punished for other violations during the three years, depot officials said.
Rick Rogers: (760) 476-8212; firstname.lastname@example.org
09-11-07, 09:13 AM #2
Marine Pleads Not Guilty in Abuse Case
By ELLIOT SPAGAT 09.10.07, 10:59 PM ET
SAN DIEGO -
A Marine drill instructor accused of kicking, punching and spitting on recruits for their mistakes pleaded not guilty Monday to assault and other charges.
Sgt. Mark A. Delarosa, 25, of Hemet, entered the plea at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, one of the Corps' two training depots. Prosecutors said he did things such as striking recruits in the eyes with a set of keys and kicking a recruit in the shin for failing to properly greet an instructor.
"He corrected them each by giving them a little bit of pain to remember the memory," prosecutor Capt. Brent Stricker said in opening statements.
Delarosa is charged with 13 counts - four for assault, five for violating orders, two for making a false statement and one each for maltreatment and provoking speech. If convicted, he faces up to one year in confinement.
His lawyer, Capt. Patrick Callahan, said his client was a "very intense" instructor who trained more than 900 recruits but did not break the rules. He described him as a taskmaster who dreaded the prospect of telling spouses that his trainees died in Iraq because they were unprepared for war.
"This is the Marines, not the Air Force, not the Army," Callahan said. "We push these recruits. We say mean things to recruits."
One recruit, Jared Arvanitas of South Jordan, Utah, testified that Delarosa kicked him in the shin in January for improperly positioning his feet during instruction, bruising him so badly that it was difficult for him to walk or get out of bed. Delarosa also once spat in his face while demanding more exercise, he said.
"He pretty much made me dislike the Marine Corps," Arvanitas said.
In a separate case Monday, another Marine drill instructor, Sgt. Brian M. Wendel, did not enter a plea to 18 counts of abusing recruits, but his attorney insisted he was innocent.
Defense attorney Capt. Jahn Olson said Wendel had been unfairly linked to another drill instructor on his team, Sgt. Jerrod M. Glass, who was charged last month with 225 counts of abusing recruits in 110 suspected incidents between Dec. 23, 2006 and Feb. 10.
"This is one of those cases of guilt by association," Olson told reporters.
Wendel, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, was charged with two counts of assault, three of maltreatment and one of damaging personal property. The Marine also faces charges of concealing serious offenses, dereliction of duty and making false official statements.
Lt. Col. Eugene Robinson, the military judge overseeing the case, set a Dec. 10 court-martial date. Wendel, an eight-year military veteran who remains on active duty, faces up to a years' confinement if convicted.
Glass, who had worked as a drill sergeant for less than a year when the alleged mistreatment occurred, was relieved of duty as a drill instructor in February. He is scheduled to go to court-martial Nov. 8. If convicted, he faces up to 269 years in confinement.
No member of the platoon was seriously injured, according to the Marines.
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