The first drill instructor to face trial for alleged hazing and recruit abuse has been acquitted of all charges, according to multiple sources.
Sgt. Riley R. Gress was found not guilty of maltreatment, failure to obey a lawful order and making a false official statement at a court-martial Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., according to the Marine Corps Times and Military.com, the first outlet to report the story.
Gress is the first of six Marines to be tried in the wake of recruit Raheel Siddiqui’s death, which spawned multiple investigations. Those inquiries found instances of hazing and recruit abuse throughout 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
Gress was not tied to Siddiqui’s death nor was he connected to an incident where another Muslim recruit was allegedly ordered into a commercial clothes dryer and interrogated about his faith and loyalty.
Instead, Gress’ name surfaced during an April 2016 “red dot” investigation prompted by the White House. He and three other drill instructors — Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Bacchus, Staff Sgt. Jose Lucena-Martinez and Staff Sgt. Antonio Burke — were accused of taking recruits to “The Dungeon,” an abandoned building on where recruits were reportedly hazed and abused.
Bacchus, Lucena-Martinez and Burke will face trial this summer, according to Military.com.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix and Sgt. Michael K. Eldridge will face general courts-martial — the highest-level military court — at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., this summer.
Eldridge will tried for his alleged role in the dryer incident.
Felix is also accused of being involved in that incident and has been charged in connection with the death of Siddiqui.
Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Taylor, Mich., native, died March 18, 2016, from injuries sustained during a three-story fall at the depot.
Shortly before that fall, Siddiqui was reportedly disciplined and slapped in the face by a drill instructor. And at some point before his death, he was allegedly called a “terrorist” by that drill instructor.
Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston
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