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Major gets 30 days, forfeits pay over party

Oct. 3, 2012 - 07:34AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 3, 2012 - 07:34AM  |  
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A Fort Carson, Colo., major who said he was forced by his superiors to drink at a frat house-style party was convicted Sept. 26 of drunk and disorderly conduct and sentenced to 30 days of confinement, according to officials at the post.

Maj. Christopher Garbarino, operations officer for the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, was sentenced to a letter of reprimand and forfeiture of six months' pay. Garbarino will spend only 10 to 15 days of his 30-day sentence in confinement, as credit for good conduct, Fort Carson officials said.

Garbarino was accused of groping a female colleague at the party and fighting with fellow officers before he passed out, but his defense attorney worked to prove the touching was accidental.

"The evidence was clear there was no sexual assault and there was no assault and battery, and the right result was reached with regard to those charges," said Ernesto Gasparin, the attorney.

The colleague Garbarino was accused of groping testified he approached her from behind and groped her for as long as a minute, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. She also reportedly testified she changed her statement to authorities several times because she wanted to help Garbarino.

Gasparin told Army Times an eyewitness testified at the court-martial in late September that the contact had been very brief.

Gasparin had argued at trial that Garbarino was pressured into drinking by the commander of his battalion, who created a fraternity-style social group called the "Straight Arrows Association," complete with a hierarchy and bylaws.

"[Garbarino] testified that he went to the function with the intent of supporting his battalion commander," Gasparin said. "He did not intend to drink. He did not intend to get intoxicated."

An invitation to the event, held at an officer's home in March, reportedly said it would last "until liver failure." At the party, Garbarino was made to drink "grog," a mixture of alcoholic beverages, for violations of the club's bylaws.

He testified he could have said "no," but he saw another officer being heckled, Gasparin said. "According to the bylaws, the grog had to be guzzled."

Garbarino testified that after the third drink of grog, he felt drunk and eventually blacked out, Gasparin said. He also testified he had no recollection of touching the female colleague.

Garbarino was reportedly hugging other officers when the alleged contact with the female colleague occurred. When he began shoving officers, partygoers duct-taped his hands and feet together.

No one else has been charged, Fort Carson officials said.

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