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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine sergeant was found guilty Wednesday of improperly touching four junior Marines during a night of drinking March 1 at the enlisted club on White Beach.

Sgt. Tony Agosto, 24, now assigned to the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, was sentenced to 45 days in the brig, reduced to E-1 and handed a bad-conduct discharge. The special court-martial lasted two days.

He also was found guilty of being drunk and disorderly.

According to testimony by the four male corporals during the trial, Agosto was part of a Port Operations Group loading ships for deployment and went to the club in uniform with other Marines.

The club was crowded that night, and the four Marines — who then were lance corporals — said at first they thought Agosto was joking when he sidled up to them throughout the night and placed his hand on their thighs as they stood together.

But they said he repeated his advances, convincing them he was making homosexual overtures. One said Agosto leaned over and whispered in his ear: “You know you want to.”

“It made me feel awkward,” the Marine said.

The four said they did not know Agosto well, but they were afraid to do anything about his advances, other than to walk away or tell him to stop, because he was a noncommissioned officer.

The next morning, after discussing what had happened, they said they followed a corporal’s advice and reported Agosto’s actions.

Agosto’s defense attorney, Capt. Kristy Milton, argued that the young Marines had been mistaken concerning Agosto’s intent and that Marines play “gay jokes” on each other all the time. She compared what had occurred to football players who smack each other on the rump after a good play.

Agosto did not testify or make a statement during the sentencing phase of the trial. Milton asked the court-martial panel of two warrant officers and a major — one of them a woman — to sentence Agosto to no more than 45 days confinement and reduction to E-1.

“If nothing else happens, Sgt. Agosto, for the rest of his life, will have to register as a sexual offender,” Milton said.

She noted that Agosto would face an administrative discharge if a bad-conduct discharge was not awarded. The conviction would be enough to discharge him under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for homosexuals in the military.

Capt. Robert Eckert, the prosecutor, said Agosto’s statement to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent showed Agosto’s homosexual intent.

“He admitted culpability,” Eckert said. Agosto signed the statement, admitting he did not remember the events of the night of March 1 but not denying they happened.

“It was not my intention to make any Marine uncomfortable,” Agosto said in his statement. “If they were standing in front of me right now, I’d apologize.”

“Basically he’s telling you, ‘Yes I did it; I groped some junior Marines,’ ” Eckert argued.

He asked for a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of two-thirds pay and allowances, 11 months confinement and reduction to E-1.


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