An Army mechanic who refused to go to Iraq while he sought conscientious objector status was acquitted of desertion Thursday but found guilty of a lesser charge and sentenced to 15 months behind bars.
Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, also was given a dishonorable discharge and a reduction in rank to private on the charge of missing movement. If he had been found guilty of desertion, he could have faced five years in prison.
Benderman failed to deploy with his 3rd Infantry Division unit in January, 10 days after he told Fort Stewart commanders he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector. He has previously said he refused to deploy to Iraq after his first combat tour during the 2003 invasion made him opposed to war.