Marine lieutenant discharged for inappropriate conduct
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine lieutenant was dismissed from service and sentenced to five months in the brig Monday for fondling a Marine lance corporal.
During a court-martial in Keystone Judicial Circuit Court, 1st Lt. Jeffrey A. Thorpe, 29, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. He admitted to touching the genitals of the male Marine while they were encamped at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Northern Okinawa on Sept. 16.
The lance corporal testified in open court. Stars and Stripes does not name victims in cases of sexual crimes, misconduct or abuse.
“I’ve felt nothing but regret every day since,” said Thorpe, who was the maintenance management officer for the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division at Camp Schwab.
He said the incident marked the first time he’d given in to homosexual urges since childhood, when, he said, he was sexually abused by his older brothers.
“I apologize to the Marine Corps for tarnishing its image,” he tearfully told the judge, Lt. Col. D.J. “Doc” Daugherty, in an unsworn statement. “Officers should be moral leaders. I’ve disgraced myself and, consequently, disgraced the officer corps.”
During sentencing, the judge recommended that Thorpe receive “extensive psychological counseling” during his confinement.
“You’ve been carrying this burden by yourself for far too long,” the judge said of the history of abuse as a child. “What those people did to you as a child was inexcusable and a crime.”
Thorpe told the judge he was alone with the lance corporal, playing gin rummy inside his two-man tent, when generators for the camp’s lights were turned off. He and the lance corporal continued to play cards, he said, until they had exhausted the light from his notebook computer.
As the lance corporal announced his intention to return to his own tent, Thorpe said, he reached over and touched him inappropriately.
Thorpe said he misread the other man’s reactions.
“While we were playing cards, we exchanged glances and we moved closer together,” he said. But Thorpe stopped immediately when the other Marine objected to the touching, Thorpe said.
He said he instantly realized he had “stepped over boundaries that should never be stepped over between a Marine officer and Marine enlisted man.” Thorpe followed the lance corporal out of the tent, apologized and agreed to report his actions to the battalion commander the next day.
During the hearing, his former executive officer testified via speakerphone that Thorpe was an “outstanding” officer.
“He was top-notch from the word go,” said Major David Badger. “He did a bang-up job.”
The sentiment was echoed by his commanding officer, Lt. Col. James A. Cameron, who added, however, that it did not excuse Thorpe’s actions.
“His performance in his battalion was professionally excellent,” he said, also over a speakerphone. “However, what he did was inexcusable. What he did to that young Marine was very wrong.”