2 NCOs found not guilty in Kosovo hazing case
Stars and Stripes
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two Georgia National Guard noncommissioned officers accused of hazing and mistreating a junior soldier during their unit’s peacekeeping deployment in Kosovo have been found not guilty in separate courts-martial.
First Sgt. Brett R. Paul was found not guilty on Aug. 7 on charges of cruelty and dereliction of duty under Articles 93 and 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in connection with a prank allegedly involving a water board.
On Wednesday, Sgt. Cody Lee Phillips was found not guilty of hazing-related charges under Article 92 involving accusations that he ordered excessive exercise routines as “corrective punishment” to junior soldiers. Phillips also was found not guilty of using a racist slur and of indecent exposure. .
More than a dozen soldiers from Georgia’s 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment were investigated in connection with the alleged hazing incidents, which authorities said took place between December and January.
The U.S. Army Europe investigation was launched soon after a formal complaint was made in early February by Pfc. Thomas Nguyen, who reported a hostile work environment. Army criminal investigators learned there were widespread problems in the company, according to USAREUR.
Under cross-examination during the courts-martial, Nguyen admitted that he had been looking for a way out of the infantry unit he was attached to; had described in a notebook the alleged waterboarding incident as a threat of “torture,” even though he “knew it was a joke”; and conceded he never saw Phillips’ genitalia, as alleged.
The case against one other Georgia Guard member is pending. The fate of Staff Sgt. Troy Wayne Flud, who, during a summary court-martial last week pleaded guilty to cruelty and mistreatment and not guilty to ordering excessive exercises, will be decided by the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, commander of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
Piggee’s decision is expected next week. Flud could face a maximum penalty of reduction in pay grade and partial forfeiture of pay, according to the 21st TSC JAG office.
Other soldiers from the unit who were investigated in connection with the alleged hazing incidents received nonjudicial punishments or reprimands. Others were cleared of culpability.