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Marines disciplined in fraternization case

SAN DIEGO — Five male staff sergeants at Camp Pendleton face dismissal from the Marine Corps after being convicted of fraternization with a female lance corporal, Marine officials said Monday.

After a court-martial, one of the five received a bad conduct discharge. Another pleaded guilty to fraternization and adultery and waived his right to an administrative hearing to avoid being dismissed.

Three others were convicted of fraternization at court-martial and were recommended for administrative separation from the Marine Corps for “commission of a serious offense.” Those three have the right to a hearing before an administrative separation board consisting of officers and non-commissioned officers.

All five of the staff sergeants fraternized with the lance corporal over a period of months. Four of the five are married; at court-martial, three of those were found not guilty of adultery, and the fourth pleaded guilty to the charge.

The five staff sergeants and the lance corporal in the case, first reported in the U-T San Diego newspaper, are all part of the 1st Marine Logistics Group. The lance corporal reportedly has a history of emotional turmoil and has attempted suicide; she is not facing charges or forced dismissal.

Fraternization is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice because it can be detrimental to “good order and discipline” and can “bring discredit” on the military. Adultery is also a crime under the code for similar reasons.

A staff sergeant is considered a senior non-commissioned officer, giving orders to lower-ranking Marines. The convening authority in the case was Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow, commanding officer of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, which has responsibility for bringing supplies and personnel to the battlefield.

In confirming the details of the case, the Marine Corps issued a statement drawing a distinction between the case and the sexual assault cases that have roiled the U.S. military.

Article 1165 of Navy regulations “prohibits relationships between enlisted that are unduly familiar and do not respect differences in grade or rank or service traditions,” the Marine Corps said.

In the same statement, the Corps said, “Marines are held personally accountable for their actions and for keeping the Marine Corps’ honor clean and preserving our rich legacy of valor.”

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