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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An alcohol-fueled toga party in which two male noncommissioned officers had a sexual encounter with a lower-ranking female soldier in their unit resulted in both men being sentenced this month to time behind bars.

On Thursday, David D. Etheredge, a soldier with Landstuhl’s Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion, was sentenced to one month in confinement and reduced from sergeant to the rank of private first class at a court-martial.

The Army judge, Col. Timothy Grammel, found Etheredge guilty of indecent acts, making a false official statement and violating an Army regulation on fraternization.

Etheredge’s conviction stems from a party that took place Sept. 22, at the Landstuhl military housing residence of then-Staff Sgt. Darren Haynes, also a member of Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion.

The unit performs satellite communications on a small post near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Etheredge, who is married with two children and expecting a third in June, received oral sex from a female soldier in his unit while Haynes had sex with the woman in the basement of a Landstuhl housing building, according to testimony.

Pictures taken at the party prior to the act and shown in court Thursday showed Etheredge dressed in a blue “SpongeBob SquarePants” toga.

Earlier this month, Haynes pleaded guilty to indecent acts, sodomy and adultery for his role in the encounter. Haynes was reduced to the rank of sergeant and sentenced to 30 days in confinement.

According to testimony, on the evening of Sept. 22, Haynes’ wife threw a surprise party for her husband’s birthday. The party began at 8 p.m. in the couple’s apartment in Building 3856 on the Landstuhl post. Many of the 25 to 30 people at the party, which included soldiers ranking from private first class to sergeant first class, were drinking.

According to several witnesses, around midnight, Haynes, Etheredge and the female soldier were missing from the party.

Haynes began having sex with the female soldier in the building’s basement, Haynes testified. Etheredge appeared and began receiving what looked to be oral sex from the female soldier, Haynes said Thursday.

Haynes’ wife, Etheredge’s wife and other spouses began searching the building for the men with Haynes’ wife catching her husband and the female soldier in the act, according to testimony. However, Haynes’ wife did not see Etheredge in the basement. Etheredge was eventually found by his wife in his own apartment in the building.

Maj. Mark Vetter, Etheredge’s defense attorney, sought to cast doubt on the female soldier’s story that the acts were not consensual.

“She’s claiming this is rape,” he said. “She’s claiming this is forcible sodomy perhaps because she was found in a very compromising position with Sergeant Haynes by Sergeant Haynes’ wife.”

At one point in the investigation, officials sought the charge of forcible sodomy against Etheredge.

In his first statement to Criminal Investigation Command, Etheredge said he did not receive oral sex from the female soldier, but he later provided a statement swearing that he did engage in the act with the woman, according to testimony.

“These are not the actions of an NCO,” said Capt. Ryan Krohn, a prosecuting attorney. “Lying about it afterwards is not the action of an NCO.”


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