A military judge has dismissed six charges related to the alleged rape of a minor against a retired Army two-star general because the statute of limitations had run out.
by Todd South
Retired Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, 68, of Gainesville, Virginia, was charged last year after an alleged female victim, now 46 years old, claimed he continually raped her at multiple locations beginning in the 1970s and continuing until the late 1980s.
Army Times does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
At the time of some of the offenses, there was no statute of limitations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. However, a February ruling by the military’s highest court set the statute of limitations on rape cases at five years.
The alleged victim’s attorney, Ryan Guilds, told Army Times that his client is one of the strongest sexual assault survivors he has ever met, and “it’s really a shame that the justice system failed her.”
“The important thing to understand from the court’s ruling is it doesn’t have anything to do with the truth of what happened to a little girl from the age of three to 18,” Guilds said. “Or anything to do with the monster who violated not only his duties as a man and a human being but as an Army officer.”
Grazioplene’s civilian attorney, Thomas Pavlinic, declined to comment about any facts of the case but said that he and his client were “grateful that the case is over and that the judge correctly analyzed and applied the law.”
In an August Article 32 hearing, military prosecutors alleged that Grazioplene assaulted the girl at or near each of his duty stations from 1983 to 1989, which included Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Bindlach and Amberg, Germany; Woodbridge, Virginia; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The alleged victim also alleged abuse at other locations, including while Grazioplene taught at West Point and at another location in New York state. Some of her testimony referenced abuse that took place before the time frame listed in the charge sheet.
The alleged abuse included sexual intercourse, molestation and fondling of the alleged victim on multiple occasions, beginning as young as age three.
U.S. Army Circuit Judge Col. Daniel Brookhart noted in his March 23 ruling that at the time of the alleged offense there was “no unique UCMJ article criminalizing the rape of a child.”
“…the age of the victim was not an element of the offense and bore no impact on the punishment authorized in the statute,” Brookhart wrote.
That wouldn’t have stopped Grazioplene from being charged on this allegation, though, because the broader crime of rape under UCMJ at the time could have result in a death penalty. And with the death penalty as a punishment, there was no statute of limitations after 1986.
The first three charges on the six-charge sheet fell under a three-year statute of limitations from before 1986 and were tossed out at a January hearing.
Brookhart then had to rule on the final three charges, which fell in a period from 1986 to 1989, in which rape could be punishable by death and had no statute of limitations.
However, U.S. case law later deemed it unconstitutional to execute someone for adult rape. The U.S. case law and UCMJ punishments both remained in place and at odds until 2008, when military law was changed to remove the death penalty.
Military courts had stood by previous precedent though, allowing cases that previously had no statue of limitations to continue to be charged.
But in February, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, or CAAF, ruled against precedent, setting the statute of limitations on rape cases at five years.
Barring a petition for the recent CAAF ruling to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is unlikely that the ruling will change.
For that reason, the dismissed charges against Grazioplene are unlikely to be reinstated or charged in another format, Pavlinic said.
Alexander: You should also know that General James Grazioplene is the former Vice President of DynCorp, a private military company at the center of human trafficking allegations. You can read more on the subject HERE.