HEIDELBERG, Germany — One of U.S. Army Europe’s highest-ranking sergeants will be court-martialed on charges of aggravated sexual assault and maltreatment of a young specialist, according to military officials.

The case of Sgt. Maj. Garry Tull was referred on Wednesday to a general court-martial by the V Corps commander, Brig. Gen. Michael Ryan, a month after the sergeant major’s Article 32 hearing, according to public affairs officials. Article 32 hearings are held to determine whether enough evidence exists to prosecute a case.

Tull is also charged with adultery and violating a lawful general regulation that prohibits improper or exploitative relationships between soldiers of different ranks.

A rape charge against Tull, the most serious charge against him, was dismissed last week, a U.S. Army spokesman said.

Conviction on an aggravated sexual assault charge could bring a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The adultery and maltreatment charges carry maximum penalties of a year in jail, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay and allowances. The regulation violation charge can bring two years of confinement.

According to the charge sheet in the case, Tull caused the specialist to “engage in sexual intercourse … by abusing his military position, rank and authority to affect the military career” of the woman.

The charges stem from a trip Tull took to Naples, Italy, last May. He was then command sergeant major of the U.S. Army NATO brigade, and was there to help select a unit soldier of the year.

A date has not been set for Tull’s court-martial.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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