Mil­i­tary jury con­victs drill in­struc­tor of abus­ing re­cruits

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Emery P. Dale­sio

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. » A Marine Corps drill in­struc­tor was guilty of phys­i­cally abus­ing a se­ries of young re­cruits, some­times while drunk, and fo­cus­ing his fury on three­Mus­lim-Amer­i­can mil­i­tary vol­un­teers, a mil­i­tary jury de­cided Thurs­day. The eight-man jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, de­ter­mined that Gun­nery Sgt. Joseph Felix was guilty of haz­ing and mal­treat­ment of re­cruits at the Marine Corps’ Par­ris Is­land, South Carolina, boot camp. The jury of five sergeants and three of­fi­cers de­cided Felix punched, kicked and choked mil­i­tary hope­fuls. The 34-year- old Iraq vet- eran could be sen­tenced to mil­i­tary prison, fi­nan­cial penal­ties and a dis­hon­or­able dis­charge. The ju­ry­was to be­gin sen­tenc­ing de­lib­er­a­tions Fri­day. Felix was ac­cused in more than three dozen crim­i­nal counts of be­ing a cen­tral fig­ure in an abu­sive group of drill in­struc­tors at Par­ris Is­land that came to light af­ter the March 2016 sui­cide of one of the three Mus­limAmer­i­can re­cruits Felix tar­geted. A haz­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to charges against Felix, five other drill in­struc­tors and the train­ing bat­tal­ion’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer. Eleven oth­ers faced lesser, ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­ci­pline. Felix also was con­victed of ly­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Felix had pleaded not guilty and did not tes­tify dur­ing his trial. The lengthy list of charges against Felix in­cluded a se­ries of dis­turb­ing acts against more than a dozen re­cruits. They in­cluded com­mand­ing re­cruits to choke each other, order­ing them to drink choco­late milk and then train­ing them un­til they vom­ited, punch­ing re­cruits in the face or kick­ing them to the ground , and twice pres­sured Mus­lim re­cruits into an in­dus­trial clothes dryer. “He wasn’ t mak­ing Marines. He was break­ing Marines,” prose­cu­tor Lt. Col. JohnNor­man told ju­rorsWed­nes­day. Felixwas a “bully” who par­tic­u­larly “picked out three Mus­lim re­cruits for spe­cial abuse be­cause of theirMus­lim faith.”

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