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Ex-Army prosecutor found guilty of rape at court-martial

The Associated Press//January 27, 2015

Ex-Army prosecutor found guilty of rape at court-martial

The Associated Press//January 27, 2015

FORT BRAGG (AP) — A former U.S. Army prosecutor who oversaw sexual assault cases has been found guilty on rape and other charges following a six-day court-martial at Fort Bragg, military officials said Monday.

Maj. Erik J. Burris was found guilty on two charges of rape, a charge of forcible sodomy, four charges of assault and a charge of disobeying an order, the Army said in a five-sentence statement. Burris was sentenced to 20 years in prison, dismissed from the service, and ordered to forfeit all pay, the statement said.

Burris, 39, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. He could not be reached for comment, and the name of the lawyer representing him was not provided.

The statement emailed to news media outlets Monday was the first issued by the Army about the case. It provided no details about the crimes for which Burris was convicted or whether they included other military personnel.

Fort Bragg spokeswoman Maj. Crystal Boring said Monday night that she could not provide further details about the evidence presented against Burris, which she said involved multiple victims.

“Our policy is not to comment on information that might reveal the identities of sexual assault or minor victims,” Boring said. “We do not have a policy of issuing public releases on sexual assault cases and have received no previous media inquiries (about this case).”

Boring said Burris’ name was listed on a public docket in advance of his trial, though a copy was no longer available. Such dockets do not list the specific charges against a defendant, only the numbered sections of military law at issue.

Nonmilitary personnel cannot access the sprawling North Carolina base or its federal courthouse without prior approval. Court documents such as legal motions and trial transcripts are supposed to be public under the Freedom of Information Act but are routinely not provided by the military until months, even years, after the case is resolved.

At the time he was charged, Burris was the chief of military justice for the 82nd Airborne — a position in which he supervised other military prosecutors handling criminal cases within the famed paratrooper division.

The military has been under intense scrutiny in recent years over its handling of sexual assault allegations. A trial was held at Fort Bragg last year for the man believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. military officer ever court-martialed on sexual assault charges.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, who served as deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, faced numerous criminal charges after he was accused of twice forcing a female captain who worked for him to perform oral sex during the course of a three-year extramarital affair, as well as inappropriate relationships with two other women.

The trial ended in March when Sinclair agreed to plead guilty to some of the less serious charges against him as part of a plea agreement that saw him retire at a reduced rank while avoiding prison time.

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