Drill sergeants tried to intimidate sex assault victim

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COLUMBIA — Army investigators have determined after a Fort Jackson drill sergeant’s conviction for sexual assault that a second drill sergeant tried to intimidate one of the victims who complained and that a company commander didn’t report the accusations to military police.

Commanders at the Army’s largest training center promise to look into allegations that other drill sergeants intimidated a victim who accused Staff Sgt. Louis Corral, The State reported Thursday.

“We want to do this right,” said Col. Kenneth Royalty, Fort Jackson’s chief of staff. “If a soldier brings up a new allegation tomorrow, we will review it.”

Corral assaulted or harassed five female recruits between Jan. 4 and Jan. 14 while he was their drill sergeant, said Col. Steven Weir, Fort Jackson’s staff judge advocate. Corral was accused of sexually assaulting two recruits at one time, including having at least one of them perform a sex act on him.

Corral was convicted last week of forcible sodomy, abusive sexual contact, indecent conduct, assault, adultery, and failing to follow a lawful order, Weir said. He was sentenced to five years in prison, reduced in rank to private and forfeited his $2,886 monthly salary.

Pfc. Natasha Woodruff, 20, of Defiance, Ohio, said Corral groped her and that after she reported the attack it took two days before her complaints were reported to military police.

During those two days, other drill sergeants tried to intimidate Woodruff to get her to rescind her accusations, she said. One drill sergeant threatened her, a first sergeant tried to talk her out of making the allegations, and she was denied phone privileges, Woodruff said.

“I’m doing this so other privates don’t have to go through what I did,” said Woodruff, who now is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. “No one should be discouraged from reporting something.”

The investigation uncovered evidence of intimidation, but no cover-up, Weir said.

The female drill sergeant who threatened Woodruff was given an official reprimand but was allowed to keep her job, Fort Jackson spokesman Michael Pond. Officers believed the drill sergeant was manipulated by Corral and was otherwise a good performer, Pond said.

The captain in charge of F Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment launched an inquiry to determine whether Woodruff’s allegations were legitimate instead of calling military police as soon as he heard about the assault, Royalty said. That captain underwent an evaluation from a higher officer.

Army officials said they might reopen an investigation into how company leaders reacted.

“We take this very seriously,” said Col. David Wilcox, the chief of staff of the Army’s office overseeing all training posts. “Sexual assault eats away at unit cohesion. It eats away at unit readiness. I am one who is committed to making sure this is stamped out. It is not tolerated whether it’s in basic training or any other unit.”


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