HEIDELBERG, Germany — A V Corps chaplain accused of sex crimes and assault has been allowed to resign his commission rather than face a court-martial.

Capt. Anthony C. Mastromarino was allowed to “resign for the good of the service in lieu of court-martial,” officials said. “He is leaving the service,” said V Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton.

Such resignations, which normally conclude with a less than honorable discharge, are a way for authorities to deal with cases that are deemed troublesome to prosecute, experts said, for a variety of reasons.

Mastromarino was charged in January with several crimes that prosecutors said he committed against a male soldier in Vilseck last June: forcible sodomy, indecent assault, indecent exposure and fraternization. He was also charged with twice threatening and assaulting a woman — in 2005 at Fort Campbell, Ky., and in January in Heidelberg. He also was charged with assaulting a military policeman called to the January incident.

Mastromarino had been assigned as a chaplain with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Patton said. By August, a criminal investigation was under way, and he was assigned to V Corps’ Headquarters and Headquarters Company, she said.

In Heidelberg, he did administrative work, she said, and did not interact with soldiers or family members in a pastoral role.

Mastromarino, 44, was commissioned in the Army in 2004, Patton said. She declined to say when the chaplain’s request to resign was approved or to provide the reasons why the case was settled in that manner, citing privacy concerns. No public hearings were held in the case, authorities said.

But an officer’s resignation for the good of the service in lieu of court-martial is similar to a Chapter 10 — available to enlisted soldiers seeking an administrative discharge when charged with a crime. The primary difference is that a commander decides whether to approve it in enlisted soldier cases; the Department of the Army decides an officer’s request.

According Army regulations, such a discharge is “encouraged” when “the offense is sufficiently serious to warrant separation from the Service and that the soldier has no rehabilitation potential.”

But it should not be used, the regulation said, when the offense warrants a punitive discharge and confinement — or when the offense is not serious.

“I’ve seen this in drug offenses and sex offenses,” said a military lawyer who declined to be named.

The lawyer said such a resignation can be a “middle ground,” agreed upon because the prosecution has proof problems or the defendant doesn’t want to risk a court-martial.

“This isn’t a conviction. They get out of the military with a clean criminal record,” the lawyer said.

The resignation usually brings a discharge under Other than Honorable Conditions, according to Army regulations. It’s the most severe form of administrative discharge and carries a stigma that could limit future career plans and Army benefits.

Public affairs officers with the Army human resources command were asked last week how many requests for such resignations were received and how many approved. They did not provide that information.

In 1997, the Air Force told the New York Times that 10 of 23 requests for resignation instead of courts-martial had been approved in 1994, 10 of 49 requests in 1995 and 7 of 38 in 1996.

author picture
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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