Over the weekend, an Article 32 preliminary hearing was held to consider allegations of rape of a child by retired Army Major General James J. Grazioplene. The retired general is accused of committing rape on six different occasions between 1983 and 1989 while he was stationed in the United States and Germany.
This move isn’t common. The U.S. Army has only court-martialed a general four other times since the Truman administration. Grazioplene, 68, was court-martialed according to army officials and court documents asserting the fact. According to the same documents, the rapes occurred at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Liberty (Fort Bragg), North Carolina; Amberg, Germany; Bindlach, Germany; and Woodbridge, Virginia. The identity of the alleged victim was redacted from the records.
According to the opinion of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) in United States vs. Dinger, the court affirmed military retirement is merely a change in duty status. Those who retire from active duty and receive retired pay remain subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
However, the Grazioplene case raises a different problem, which is whether or not the prosecution is barred by the statute of limitations. Article 43 contains a broad, five-year statute of limitations, but the exception for child abuse offenses was not added until 2003. Even earlier, in 1986, Congress amended Article 43 to eliminate any statute of limitation for any offense punishable by death, and rape was a capital offense at the time.
While in previous years, the armed forces would have dealt with generals and admirals suspected of crimes by imposing discipline in private or ending their careers with a minimum public explanation, now the Defense Department has been put under pressure to crack down on sexual harassment and assault in the ranks.
If he is convicted, Grazioplene could face a maximum punishment of confinement for life with the possibility of parole.
Joseph L. Jordan is a military criminal defense lawyer with an impressive history of protecting the rights of service members from all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Whether they are stationed at-home or abroad, clients can trust him to cut to the truth of the matter and provide excellent defense in courts-martial cases. If you are on active duty or are a retired military service member facing trial by court-martial, you can rely on Attorney Jordan to protect your rights, your rank, and your reputation. Attorney Jordan keeps up on all recent developments in military law and regulations. If you need help with a case, contact his firm at (866) 361-4723 or fill out the online form for additional information or for representation from an intelligent, tenacious, and unwavering civilian lawyer trusted in bases across the United States and the world.