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Pacific edition, Thursday, May 10, 2007

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — An Army staff sergeant was found not guilty Tuesday of indecently assaulting a drunken soldier earlier this year.

But Staff Sgt. Tyrone Edelen was sentenced to 30 days hard labor without confinement, reduced to the rank of sergeant and ordered to forfeit $1,000 a month for two months after pleading guilty to three specifications of failing to obey an order or regulation.

Edelen made a pre-trial agreement to plead guilty. As part of the deal, the prosecution presented no evidence on the charge of indecent assault.

Edelen, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Army, was convicted during Tuesday’s court- martial of having an improper relationship, violating unit policy by being in a female’s barracks room with the door closed and dereliction of his duty in connection with a Jan. 27 incident.

He faced 2½ years in jail, reduction to the military rank of E-1, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Edelen told the court that he escorted a drunken soldier to her barracks room, convinced her to take her top off and engaged in “consensual sexual touching.”

During the sentencing hearing, several of Edelen’s former supervisors described him as a good noncommissioned officer whose work was impeccable.

Edelen’s accuser testified that she had lost her faith in Army leadership after that night. She also said she had trouble sleeping and felt stress.

Col. Gregory Gross, military judge, listened to a tearful statement from Edelen before retiring to his chambers for about 90 minutes of deliberation.

Edelen spoke of his record in the Army, his charity work and his faith, and begged the judge to allow him to remain in the Army.

He described his actions as “a few minutes of stupid mistakes that I wish to God I could take back.”

“The Army was a place where I could do something honorable with my life,” he said. “I was born to be a soldier.”

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