Maj. Christopher Garbarino, 36, who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., faces charges of drunken mischief and inappropriate sexual contact during a party at the home of a commander, according to a charge sheet provided to Army Times. His court-martial starts Sept. 24 at Carson. (File photo / The Associated Press)
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An Army major at Fort Carson, Colo., says he is being punished after a party in which he says he was forced by superior officers to drink until he blacked out.
Maj. Christopher Garbarino, 36, faces charges of drunken mischief and inappropriate sexual contact during a party at the home of a commander, according to a charge sheet provided to Army Times.
Garbarino's attorney, Ernesto Gapasin, told Stars and Stripes he was a victim of hazing, pressured by his battalion commander to attend the party and drink heavily, the newspaper has reported.
He said Garbarino ended up so drunk he has no memory of the crimes he allegedly committed.
"At one point they decided to tie him up with duct tape because they decided he was too rowdy," Gapasin said. "He got drunk because he didn't have a choice. This was hazing."
Prosecutors have reportedly declined to comment on the case before the start of Garbarino's court-martial, scheduled for Monday at Fort Carson.
The senior officers in the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, tried to create their own fraternity-style social group — with bylaws, initiation rites and promises of binge drinking — in an effort to build team morale and camaraderie, Stripes reported. The club's name, the "Straight Arrows Association," resembles the 4-42 FAR's moniker, "Straight Arrows."
Lt. Col. David Chiarenza, who held the party at his home in March, was reportedly the "Supreme Allied Commander" of the social club.
Alcohol was not the main focus of the group and "no one is made to drink if they don't want to," he reportedly told investigators.
Other officers in the battalion reported otherwise, telling investigators that attendance and consumption at parties was an unofficial requirement, Stripes reported.
A flier sent around for the March event called for each company to supply at least two bottles of liquor and said the party would last "until liver failure." Organizers used a log book to track attendance.
"It was very encouraged to attend," one lieutenant told investigators, according to the Stripes report. "There wouldn't be any disciplinary action for not going, but it would look bad."
Other officers in attendance said drinking was an unofficial requirement. "It felt like a frat party," one lieutenant said, according to the Stripes report.
Gapasin said Garbarino was forced to drink "grog," a mixture of vodka, rum, whiskey, Diet Coke and hot sauce, because he showed up in uniform. Chiarenza disputed that to investigators, saying it was Garbarino's choice to get drunk.
At some point, Garbarino began hugging some of the 30 officers there, including the only female officer. He is accused by the Army of fondling her breasts. When he began shoving officers, they taped his hands and feet together.
"My client doesn't remember a thing, because he was forced to drink so much," Gapasin told Stripes.