WüRZBURG, Germany — A court-martial panel Friday cleared a married 1st Infantry Division soldier of unlawful sex with a minor although he acknowledged fathering the German teenager’s child.

Sgt. Harry F. Winchester III, 25, of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of adultery, according to a statement from the Army’s Heidelberg-based V Corps. But a military judge dismissed a charge of sodomy, and the panel of three officers and four enlisted soldiers — including four men and three women — found him innocent of carnal knowledge.

David Court, the soldier’s civilian defense attorney, said Winchester’s friend, Spc. Stephen Varney, testified that the two soldiers had met the girl outside a bar in Bad Kissingen in September 2003. Court said Varney testified that Winchester began a sexual relationship with the girl with her parents’ knowledge and that the girl said at the time she was 17.

Court said they broke up in February 2004 after the girl told Winchester she was pregnant and wouldn’t get an abortion as he suggested. The soldier stayed behind while the 1-26 Infantry deployed to Iraq as rumors about the relationship surfaced among residents of the Bad Kissingen housing area, where Winchester lives with his wife. In July, he finally joined his unit in Iraq.

The girl, who later said she was 14 at the time, gave birth to a baby girl in October, Court said, and a DNA test indicated Winchester was the father. His unit returned him to Germany in November to face charges, and he agreed to make child-support payments.

The girl testified last November at an Article 32 investigative hearing but refused to testify at last week’s court-martial. So the judge, Lt. Col. Robin Hall, allowed the co-prosecutors, Capts. Jonathan Larcomb and Zahid Quraishi, to read her earlier testimony to the panel.

Court and his co-counsel, Capt. Clint Campion, argued Winchester didn’t know she was under 16, the age of sexual consent under military law. The panel sentenced Winchester to restriction for 60 days and hard labor for 90 days, fined him $8,400, and ordered him reprimanded and reduced to the lowest enlisted rank.

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