Archive for Saturday, February 25, 2006

Seven paratroopers charged with having sex in videos on gay Web site

February 25, 2006


— The Army has charged seven paratroopers from the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division with engaging in sex acts in videos shown on a gay pornography Web site.

Three of the soldiers face courts-martial on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money, according to a statement released by the military Friday.

Four other soldiers received what the military calls nonjudicial punishments.

The Army has recommended that all be discharged.

The charges do not mention the name of the site, but the division previously had been investigating allegations that soldiers appeared on a gay pornography Web site. A spokesman for the division said Friday's charges were a result of that investigation.

"As far as we're concerned, it's isolated to the unit, and our investigation determined that these seven individuals were the only ones" involved, said 82nd Airborne spokesman Maj. Thomas Earnhardt.

Steve Ralls, a spokesman for a legal group that helps gays and lesbians in the military, said the charges indicate the soldiers' behavior is "a much more serious matter than just their sexual orientation."

"I'm not going to make excuses for service members who are taking part in sexual conduct for money," said Ralls, who works for the Washington-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "It would be absolutely criminal regardless of whether they were heterosexual or gay."

Earnhardt said the three soldiers charged under military law had been appointed military attorneys, but he said the lawyers would be unavailable for comment on Friday.

The three soldiers who face courts-martial are Spc. Richard T. Ashley, Pfc. Wesley K. Mitten and Pvt. Kagen B. Mullen. The Army did not release their ages or hometowns, but said all seven paratroopers were members of the 2nd Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

An arraignment was scheduled for March 7.


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