A former Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructor has received what the Times called “a relatively light sentence” after a court-martial last week found he abused his power over trainees.
Staff Sgt. Antonio Burke will be demoted to sergeant, that newspaper reported Sunday. Additionally, he will receive a reprimand.
Burke was accused of taking recruits to an abandoned building at the depot called “The Dungeon” and hazing them there, but he was found not guilty of that allegation.
But Burke was found guilty of inviting a recruit’s sister on a trip to Miami; making a recruit do his college homework; and “failing to adhere to recruit training rules in ways that risked recruits’ welfare,” Military.com reported Friday.
He was also found to have not taken appropriate action when a recruit — later determined to have a heart condition — passed out; to have ordered unauthorized punishment exercises (called “incentive training”); and to have grabbed a recruit by the collar and pushed him out of line at the mess hall, according to Military.com.
Burke was the first Marine to face general court-martial — the highest-level military trial — in the wake of a hazing and abuse probe at Parris Island.
While Burke’s is the most serious trial to date, two other general courts-martial are scheduled to begin soon.
Sgt. Michael K. Eldridge’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 25 to Oct. 6; he is accused of ordering a Muslim recruit into a commercial clothes dryer, turning it on and interrogating the recruit about his faith and loyalty.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 30 to Nov. 10; he is also accused of the dryer incident, and of abusing former recruit Raheel Siddiqui in the days leading up to the recruit’s death.
Siddiqui fell nearly 40 feet after he jumped from the third floor of his barracks, an action the has deemed a suicide. Siddiqui’s family and attorney dispute that claim.
An investigation of the recruit’s death found Felix had called Siddiqui — a Muslim American of Pakistani descent — a “terrorist,” and struck the reportedly sick recruit in the face moments before his death.
Felix should not have been supervising recruits, the Corps said, because he was being investigated for the dryer incident.
A high-ranking officer, Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, the former 3rd Battalion commander, also faces general court-martial for allegedly failing to sideline Felix.
Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston
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