Army investigating allegation of attack in Suwon barracks
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army in South Korea is investigating an allegation that a male soldier carried out or attempted a sexual assault on a female soldier in a barracks at Suwon Air Base last week, Stars and Stripes has learned.
The alleged incident occurred within the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a Patriot missile unit.
According to a unit member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, an incident occurred last week and led to the woman accusing the soldier of sexual misconduct toward her.
Army investigators subsequently questioned the soldier, the source said.
“An investigation is under way and no additional information will be provided, to protect the alleged victim,” Maj. Tanya Bradsher, an 8th U.S. Army spokeswoman in Seoul, said Wednesday. Bradsher provided no additional details about the investigation.
The brigade’s 1st Battalion has four barracks at Suwon Air Base and one at Osan Air Base. The brigade’s headquarters is at Osan Air Base.
Before last week’s alleged incident, three sexual misconduct incidents had occurred in 1st Battalion barracks over the past 15 months, the battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Terence M. Dorn, told Stars and Stripes on Sept. 2. One was a May 1 rape. The other two were a sexual assault and an attempt at one.
The rape led to the general court-martial and conviction last month of Pvt. Mikel A. Reynolds of the battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, who was sentenced Aug. 4 to six years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and reduction to E-1, the lowest military pay grade. Reynolds was an E-2 at the time of his conviction.
Under a plea agreement, Reynolds was to serve no more than five years in prison. Later, on Sept. 9, the judge knocked off 60 days from Reynolds’ sentence after finding that soldiers from Reynolds’ unit had acted illegally when they stripped his uniform of rank chevrons, ribbons and other items, in the courtroom after his sentencing.
In early September, leaders within the brigade halted a measure in which barracks rooms of female troops were marked with red tape in an effort to curb sexual assaults. The taping was stopped after a female soldier told told Dorn she feared it might invite attacks rather than prevent them.
Brigade leaders had hoped the tape could help alert soldiers walking through the halls that any suspicious noises coming from women’s rooms might be the sounds of a sexual crime in progress.
From the time he assumed command of the brigade in July, Col. John G. Rossi has put a high priority on stemming underage drinking, soldier alcohol abuse and soldier-on-soldier incidents of misconduct, including sexual assault and other violence. Rossi has earned such soldier-on-soldier incidents “fratricides” that undermine morale, readiness and otherwise harm soldiers and their unit.