Support our mission

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A former U.S. Army chaplain could serve 7 1/2 years in prison after a German court convicted him of attempted manslaughter stemming from an attack outside a bar in Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier this year.

Capt. Joseph Allen Parker, 34, of the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwöhr, was convicted and sentenced Oct. 4 in Munich. He is determining whether he can appeal, according to his private counsel, Munich attorney Christian Gerber.

Gerber argued in court that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a tour in Iraq explained Parker’s violent attack on another bar patron. But that attack was out of character, Gerber said.

“I have come to know Parker as a very peaceful person,” the attorney told Stars and Stripes. “His behavior (on this night) does not correspond at all to what I have seen.”

The altercation occurred Jan. 22 as Parker was vacationing in Garmisch with his girlfriend.

The couple were at an Irish pub around 4 a.m., when the woman informed Parker that another man at the bar had verbally attacked her and then touched her breast as Parker was smoking outside, according to a spokeswoman at the Munich prosecutor’s office.

Parker confronted the man outside the pub, telling him he disrespected his girlfriend. When the man failed to react, Parker pushed him hard with both hands, sending the man to the ground, and he attacked him “at least 4 times with heavy kicks against the torso,” according to the indictment.

Parker then sat on the victim’s chest and struck him several times in the head with an elbow. When a bystander intervened, Parker also attacked the helper, according to the indictment.

The victim, who has since recovered, suffered life-threatening skull fractures and damage to one eye socket, according to the spokeswoman.

Parker was detained Jan. 23 and placed in a Munich jail.

Gerber said his client’s only previous offense was for driving under the influence.

He said he presented an expert in court to testify that Parker suffers from PTSD.

Gerber said in an email to Stars and Stripes that Parker experienced a lot of stress when helping soldiers while in Iraq. Two incidences were especially tough on him.

In one, a soldier reached out to Parker for help but then committed suicide; Parker arrived the soldier’s camp one day too late.

Another time, Parker advised a soldier to go to the hospital for help. The soldier was killed in a shooting at the hospital.

Under German law, a convicted person can ask to review a written version of the oral verdict given in court and appeal any perceived flaws. Gerber is now awaiting the written verdict, he said.

Parker is being held in the Army Corrections Facility-Europe in Mannheim, his attorney said.

The 7th U.S. Army Joint Multinational Training Command, the military justice authority at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr, will await the final outcome of Parker’s case before deciding if and how it will punish him, according to Maj. Alex Deraney, the brigade’s rear detachment commander, and Capt. Tanya Mayes, trial counsel for the brigade.

Parker is no longer a chaplain, according to Deraney, although he is still assigned to the 3-66 and considered an active duty soldier.

But Parker’s ordination and endorsement were pulled before the incident due to other concerns, according to Klon Kitchen, executive director of Parker’s sponsoring agency, Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, a Texas-based convention of nonaffiliated churches. Kitchen declined to elaborate.

“I know that we were contacted about some behavior that was inappropriate, and we tried working with him, and he was not interested in working with us,” he said.

Kitchen couldn’t recall when the action was taken. He also said he was unaware of any PTSD issues with Parker.

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up