Originally created 09/18/02

Drill Sergeant accused of abuse



A sergeant at Fort Gordon will be arraigned Oct. 1 for a general court-martial on charges he abused his authority over trainees, military officials said Tuesday.

Sgt. Eric D. Smith, a drill sergeant in the 73rd Ordnance Battalion, is accused of violating three rules of conduct from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The allegations include sodomy, maltreatment of subordinates and indecent acts with another soldier, according to a statement released Tuesday after an inquiry from The Augusta Chronicle.

Marla Jones, a spokeswoman for Fort Gordon, said she did not know the details of the case or whether the victim was a male or female trainee. She also did not know whether there was more than one victim.

"(The commanders) encourage trainees to report misconduct by drill sergeants," she said.

Ms. Jones said there was no information about previous court-martials or charges brought against Sgt. Smith.

"They would not have let him be a drill sergeant if he had previous history," she said.

A trial by general court-martial is set for Oct. 30-31 at the post, Fort Gordon's statement said. Sgt. Smith has a choice to be tried by a military judge or by a panel of five or more service members.

If convicted, the former drill sergeant could face 17 years in military prison, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, reduction to the lowest enlisted rank and a dishonorable discharge, officials said.

Ms. Jones said Sgt. Smith was not confined Tuesday and is working with another unit, although she did not know where.

Sgt. Smith was assigned to Fort Gordon last September, Ms. Jones said. He was a drill sergeant in the unit's Headquarters Company and Company A until Feb. 27, she said.

Albert Ross at (706) 823-3339 or albert.ross@augustachronicle.com.