In the wake of three investigations into recruit abuse and hazing at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, four sergeants have been charged with violations ranging from “cruelty and maltreatment” to issuing false statements.
Three of those sergeants — the first personnel named in the investigations — will face special courts-martial, according to a statement released by the Corps’ Training and Education Command late Tuesday afternoon.
A fourth sergeant, whom the Corps is not naming now because of “legal requirements,” will face an Article 32 hearing.
“None of these allegations are associated with the investigation surrounding the death of Recruit Raheel Siddiqui,” the statement said, referring to the 20-year-old Muslim American of Pakistani descent from Taylor, Mich., who died March 18 after falling nearly 40 feet from the third deck of a Parris Island building.
The “accused personnel could be associated with either” the command investigation into recruit abuse and hazing within the depot’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, or the White House-prompted “red dot” investigation of a specific company within that unit, Corps spokesperson Capt. Joshua Pena wrote in an email. Those investigations began in November 2015 and May, respectively.
Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Bacchus, Sgt. Riley R. Gress and Staff Sgt. Jose Lucena-Martinez have been charged with violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Specifically, the sergeants are accused of the following violations:
▪ Bacchus: Violation of a lawful general order; maltreatment; false official statement
▪ Gress: Failure to obey a lawful general order; cruelty and maltreatment; false official statement
▪ Lucena-Martinez: Failure to obey a lawful general order; false official statement
The fourth Marine will participate in an Article 32 hearing. That hearing will determine whether that person faces a court-martial.
Currently, that Marine faces the following alleged violations: Failure to obey a lawful general order; cruelty and maltreatment; false official statement.
No hearings or arraignments have been scheduled at this time, according to the statement.
“All Marines are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the statement said.
When asked if any of the sergeants are currently, or ever were, drill instructors, Pena said he was trying to confirm their duty assignments on Parris Island and would have that information Wednesday.
The four sergeants are the first of 20 drill instructors and leadership personnel under scrutiny to be officially charged.
When asked if and when others might be charged, Pena said there is currently no information about “upcoming decisions of the convening authority” — Training and Education Command’s Major Gen. James W. Lukeman.
In the statement, Lukeman said his command has taken the allegations “very seriously.”
“As proceedings move forward, we will continue to maintain the integrity of the legal process while remaining transparent,” he said. “The Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island and San Diego transform the best of our nation’s young men and women into U.S. Marines.
“The safety of our recruits and the integrity of the Marine Corps recruit training program remain our priority,” he said.