Bamberg chaplain suspended during sexual assault probe
August 17, 2005
A military chaplain in Bamberg, Germany, has been suspended from his duties while the Army looks into allegations that he forced himself sexually on soldiers, a 1st Infantry Division spokesman said Monday.
Military prosecutors preferred charges last week against Capt. Gregory Arflack, 44, a Roman Catholic priest with the Bamberg-based 279th Base Support Battalion, in connection with incidents that took place March 21, 2004, in Doha, Qatar, and July 29 and 30, 2005, in Bamberg, said Maj. Bill Coppernoll.
The accusations include three counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of indecent acts, two counts of fraternization with enlisted soldiers, two counts of disobeying orders, one count of indecent assault, and one count of conduct unbecoming an officer, according to a 1st ID news release.
Coppernoll said Arflack is accused of fraternizing and other rules violations with three male enlisted Marines last spring in Qatar. The Bamberg incidents in July involved alleged acts of forcible sodomy with three male enlisted soldiers, one of whom reported them to his chain of command.
Coppernoll said none of the accusations involves underage victims.
According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, sodomy is defined as “unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex.” To be defined as forcible, the act must have occurred with force and without the consent of the other person.
Under military law, preferral of charges means a servicemember is formally accused but doesn’t imply guilt. A court officer will now conduct an investigation and recommend whether Arflack should be court-martialed. That recommendation will go up Arflack’s chain of command. The 279th BSB isn’t part of the 1st ID, but it falls under the division’s court-martial authority.
The chaplain’s attorney, Maj. Jeffery Lippert, said he was not available for comment but issued a brief prepared statement on his behalf.
“Counsel for Chaplain Arflack are reviewing and investigating the charges in preparation for upcoming [legal] proceedings,” Lippert said. “Chaplain Arflack is currently performing administrative duties in support of 279th BSB headquarters.”
In the meantime, the Catholic priest from Schweinfurt is traveling to Bamberg to perform Sunday Mass, Coppernoll said.
According to a profile on the Web site of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owensboro, Ky., Arflack grew up as a Southern Baptist but converted to Roman Catholicism as a young man.
He enlisted in the military, serving four years in the Air Force and five years in the Army before quitting to pursue premedical studies, the Web site said. He studied to become a priest and served at parishes in western Kentucky before joining the Army chaplain corps and serving at Fort Knox, Ky.
Coppernoll said Arflack joined the 279th BSB in January.