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Army Reservist gets 6 months for groping woman

Dec. 1, 2012 - 10:07AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 1, 2012 - 10:07AM  |  
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LINCOLN, Neb. A U.S. Army Reservist has received a six-month jail sentence after a jury found him guilty of groping and fondling a female co-worker repeatedly for more than a year.

The judge saved some of his harshest words for Army officials, saying the woman had followed the proper procedures to stop Hoyt's behavior, "and the U.S. Army failed her completely."

Hoyt was convicted of third-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, according to the">The Lincoln Journal Star. His 21-year-old accuser told jurors that Hoyt fondled and groped her for more than a year at the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Lincoln, even after she complained and Hoyt was told to stop.

Hoyt will also have to register as a sex offender.

Defense attorney Kurt Leffler said Hoyt disagreed with the verdict, and later that day he filed paperwork to appeal. He asked Pokorny to order probation, saying his client was an Iraq War veteran with 16 years of military service, and a foster parent with no criminal history.

"I don't believe, your honor, that everything came out," Hoyt said.

Hoyt admitted to police he grabbed the woman's buttocks, but said she had grabbed his as well. He denied grabbing her hand and placing it on his crotch, saying he was out of the state on the date that she said the harassment occurred.

Pokorny said Hoyt's accuser testified at trial in September that he had made lewd and sexual comments to her. The woman testified that Hoyt would fondle and grope her when they passed in the hallway or in an outside smoking area. The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The judge said the woman told jurors during cross examination that she didn't come forward sooner because "you're supposed to be a soldier" and not complain.

The woman eventually went to a sergeant who talked to Hoyt, and the harassment stopped for several weeks. It started again in March, and the woman contacted Lincoln police.

Pokorny noted that in the recent presidential campaign, both sides called for a stronger military that would do more with less.

"One wonders how that is to be accomplished if the United States Army continues to tolerate a Neanderthal mentality embedded within its ranks that drives away an entire gender, half of the best and the brightest," the judge said.

Leffler, the defense attorney, said after the verdict that the Army had reviewed the same facts as the jury and came to a different conclusion.

An Army Reserve spokeswoman told the AP on Friday that military officials were conducting a separate, internal investigation, which began after they were made aware of the harassment in March. Maj. Angel Wallace said a sexual assault response coordinator worked with the woman as soon as commanders became aware of the behavior.

Wallace said military officials worked with police because she was a civilian at the time and because of the nature of the offense.

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