Two 26th ASG soldiers alleged to have had improper dealings with middle school girls
October 26, 2003
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Army is investigating whether a military policeman and a medic based in the Heidelberg area were having improper relationships with two middle school students.
“Twenty-Sixth ASG officials are looking into allegations that two Heidelberg soldiers contacted two young girls in the area via the Internet,” said Pete Dressler, a 26th Area Support Group spokesman. “Our command became aware of the allegations when school officials brought it to the attention of military police.”
One of the soldiers is assigned to the 529th MP Company; the other works at the Army Hospital in Heidelberg. Capt. Robert Harris, commander of the 529th MP Company, declined to comment.
The investigation, Dressler said, was opened Sept. 24 and is ongoing.
“The soldiers have been counseled and suspended from their normal duties pending the outcome of the investigation,” Dressler said.
Middle school officials uncovered the alleged improper relationships late last month, according to assistant principal Maria Buchwald.
“We immediately notified their parents,” Buchwald said. “They were completely shocked and went straight to the MPs for an investigation.”
Dressler said the two soldiers involved “supposedly corresponded by walkie-talkie and the Internet with two girls aged 12 and 13 years old.”
According to the soldiers, the girls claimed to be 17 years old, he said.
“Apparently, they got the impression that these girls were not as old as they claimed to be and ceased all contact,” said Dressler. “There is no indication at all that there was any direct contact between the girls and the soldiers.”
Several middle school parents expressed outrage because they thought the allegations were not being taken seriously. Of particular concern was the fact that one of the suspects was a member of the military police.
“It seems like this has become some kind of cover-up, like they’re just sweeping this under the rug hoping nobody notices,” said one parent.
“At this point, if we can’t trust the MPs, who can we trust?” said another parent.
All parents asked that they not be identified, fearing reprisals for speaking to the press.
Initial responses from the military officials claimed that no investigation for this type of allegation was under way.
A U.S. Army Europe spokesman insisted no formal — or informal — investigations had been launched involving any impropriety on the part of MPs in the Heidelberg area.
“I’ve got nothing that faintly resembles that,” said Col. Roger King, spokesman for USAREUR. “I have nothing dealing with inappropriate activities and MP personnel in Heidelberg.”
On Friday, officials bristled at any suggestion of a cover up.
“There was never a cover-up, there will never be a cover-up,” Dressler said. “We are as interested in anyone to get to the bottom of this.”
German police said they were not notified of any military investigation into these allegations. German law requires any allegation involving police and potential child abuse be investigated, said Heidelberg Police Department spokesman Harald Kurzer.
“In our system, we are compelled by law to investigate anything of this nature,” said Kurzer.
Any concerned parents, living on base or off, can contact the German police at DSN 388-2581, or commercial 06221-678-2581.