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Army Sergeant Cleared of Sex Charges

March 22, 1997| From Associated Press

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — An Army drill sergeant was cleared Friday of charges he had consensual sex with a trainee, one day after rape charges against an Army captain were dropped in a plea agreement.

Staff Sgt. Nathanael C. Beach, 32, was found innocent of all charges of sexual misconduct and convicted of two relatively minor charges after a nonjudicial hearing at the weapons training school.

"Maybe they wanted to be better safe than sorry," said his attorney, Capt. Vincent Avallone. "In the process they put Sgt. Beach through torture."

Beach was found innocent of having sexual intercourse with a subordinate, fraternization, adultery, communicating a threat and making a false statement to investigators.

He pleaded guilty to violating orders by talking to an accuser during the investigation and was found guilty of violating a military regulation by telling a trainee to write a research paper for him. Avallone said the regulation conviction would be appealed.

Beach was one of two sergeants accused of sexual misconduct by former Pvt. Jessica Bleckley, 18, who left the Army in January. She also accused Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, 31, who faces court-martial for allegedly raping eight female trainees.

Bleckley, of Belton, S.C., was at work Friday afternoon. Her mother, Sandra Bleckley, was disappointed but not surprised by the ruling. "She knew she was fighting a losing battle from the beginning," she said.

Aberdeen Garrison Commander Col. Roslyn M. Glantz ordered Beach to pay a $1,900 fine, which was suspended provided he stays out of trouble for six months. She also recommended his removal from a promotion list.

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