Soldier convicted of sex-related charges
May 17, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A 29-year-old soldier apologized to his victims before being convicted for assaulting four soldiers, some sexually, in his barracks in March.
Spc. Yxchel J. Castillo, 29, was convicted of two sodomy counts, three indecent-assault counts and unlawful entry. He was cleared on one count of unlawful entry.
Castillo, of the 498th Corps Support Battalion, contested three charges: one count of indecent assault for placing his head in the lap of a private on March 30; unlawfully entering the room of a sergeant in his barracks Nov. 17; and housebreaking.
On the housebreaking charge, however, Castillo pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of unlawful entry.
The judge, Lt. Col. Edward J. O’Brien, sentenced Castillo to five years in prison, reduction in rank to E-1 and a bad-conduct discharge. However, because of a pretrial agreement, in which Castillo pleaded guilty to some charges, he won’t receive a term longer than two years. He also gets credit for serving 45 days in the Camp Humphreys confinement facility.
Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell, 8th Army commander, will review the case and determine the final sentence.
Four soldiers testified Thursday that Castillo, during a bout of heavy drinking overnight March 29-30 in Yongsan Garrison barracks, approached them inappropriately.
A specialist told the court Castillo invited him to his room after breaking up an argument, played some music, then put his head in the specialist’s lap, saying, “It’s OK to be gay in God’s eye.”
The specialist said he believed the incident was fueled by alcohol and wouldn’t have happened had Castillo been sober.
“I was embarrassed,” the specialist said during the sentencing phase. “I was upset.”
In another room around 11 p.m., Castillo wrestled with a private, then put his head near the soldier’s groin and grabbed his buttocks.
An hour later, according to a stipulation of fact reviewed in court, Castillo entered the room of a sleeping private, unzipped the soldier’s pants and performed a sexual act. The private later testified he awoke and told Castillo to leave.
And around 2 a.m., Castillo entered the room of another sleeping private and put his hand down the soldier’s pants. The soldier awoke and chased Castillo before contacting authorities.
The private said he wanted to kill Castillo after the incident. In court on Thursday, he testified his feelings hadn’t changed.
The four soldiers said Castillo’s actions disturbed them, but three added they’ve suffered no long-term effects. The fourth soldier, however, said he still has difficulty sleeping.
Castillo also was convicted of sodomy Aug. 31 at Camp Humphreys. The act was consensual with another private.
During an unsworn statement, Castillo said he was sexually abused for about 10 years during his childhood in Caracas, Venezuela. He said he believes he has an alcohol problem and wants counseling.
Capt. Sunny Ahn, the defense attorney, argued that Castillo’s chain of command should have suggested counseling sooner for Castillo’s behavior and alcohol problems.
“What did the chain of command do? Nothing,” Ahn said during closing arguments. “They failed Spc. Castillo as much as Spc. Castillo failed his other soldiers.”
Capt. Demaris Johanek, the prosecutor, argued that Castillo betrayed his friends. “We’ve seen that his actions have had a serious impact,” she said.