FORT MEADE, Maryland — A retired Army major general faced his accuser Saturday in a military courtroom here.
Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, who retired in 2005, sat mostly silent as the alleged victim, now 46 years old, recounted allegations of lifelong sexual abuse that escalated to repeated rapes. The woman claims the abuse started when she was 3 and went on throughout the general’s career and at nearly every station he was assigned.
Grazioplene, 68, served in the Army since 1972, shortly after graduating from West Point. He is charged with six specifications of rape of a minor on multiple occasions between 1983 and 1989.
Throughout the seven-hour Article 32 hearing on Saturday, Grazioplene, of Gainesville, Virginia, took notes, sometimes shook his head, and occasionally conferred with his defense attorneys.
Grazioplene has not been recalled to active duty. He remains retired but is attached to Headquarters, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.
The alleged victim repeatedly paused, halted, cried and at times froze as she recounted what she claims were frequent sexual assaults that continued until she turned 18.
Army Times does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
Prosecutors allege that the retired two-star “groomed” his alleged victim from an early age to satisfy his deviant sexual desires.
Defense attorneys claim that the woman has filled in memories with false claims of rape, and that inconsistent statements she’s made over the years to authorities are evidence of her being influenced by “psychobabble” and more than a decade of abuse therapy.
Military prosecutors allege that the rapes took place at or near Grazioplene’s duty stations, which included Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Bindlach and Amberg in Germany; Woodbridge, Virginia; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Through her testimony, the alleged victim said that he also sexually assaulted and abused her while teaching at West Point and while on assignment at another location in New York.
Col. Lanny Acosta Jr., the preliminary hearing officer, told both sides that he expected to have a decision on whether to refer any or all charges to his superior officer for a potential court-martial within days of receiving related documents and briefings on a crucial matter — the statute of limitations.
In 1986, a three-year statute of limitations on rape charges was removed from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is now no statute of limitations on rape in the military. However, some of the charges against Grazioplene are for incidents that allegedly took place before 1986.
The woman testified that over the years she had revealed the abuse to a handful of confidants — a school friend, college roommate, boyfriend, husband and some relatives at various points.
She also testified that she revealed different portions of what had happened to her in different ways to people, varying on how much she trusted them.
She said that during many instances of abuse she disconnected from the incident, in effect blacking out until it had ended.
She said the nature of the abuse advanced as she got older, and Grazioplene began “training” her to perform certain sex acts.
During questioning by Grazioplene’s civilian defense attorney, Tom Pavlinic, the woman admitted that some of what she told confidants contradicted what she later told Army investigators.
Pavlinic also challenged multiple statements she made to investigators when she first reported the incidents to authorities at Fort Bragg in 2015.
He said she told investigators that she didn’t recall sexual abuse in Woodbridge. But on Saturday she testified that she had been abused while there.
He said she had previously said the abuse stopped when she began menstruating at around age 13. But both in her original statement and in testimony, she alleges that it continued until age 18.
The attorney challenged her to provide “concrete” details that could be used in a criminal proceeding, rather than spotty memories and “feelings.” Pavlinic also told the hearing officer in his closing statements at least four of the six counts should be immediately dismissed as they have no evidence or specific testimony that supports them.
In her closing statements, Lt. Col. Carol Brewer, the government prosecutor, told Acosta that her client’s emotions supported her truthfulness, and problems with parts of her client’s recall were due to Grazioplene’s “depraved acts.”
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.