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Retired Army major general reduced to second lieutenant for sex crime conviction

The defense secretary reduced a retired Army major general to the rank of second lieutenant after he pleaded guilty last year in a Virginia court to sexually assaulting his daughter while in uniform.

“The Secretary of Defense changed the retired grade of then-Major General James J. Grazioplene, United States Army Retired, to second lieutenant after determining that second lieutenant was the highest grade in which he served on active duty satisfactorily,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lisa Lawrence told Army Times in an email Monday.

“This action may not be appealed,” she wrote. “Second Lieutenant Grazioplene will maintain any benefits or privileges authorized for retired officers in the grade of second lieutenant.”

Grazioplene, 71, started his military career with a commission at that same rank out of West Point in 1971. He rose to the rank of two-star general before retiring in 2005.

But his daughter, Jennifer Elmore, later brought allegations that through her entire childhood and at various posts both abroad and in the United States, her father had raped and molested her.

Army Times has a policy of not identifying by name survivors of sex crimes. Elmore agreed to be interviewed on multiple occasions and to be identified publicly in articles about Grazioplene.

The allegations were raised within the family in the years after she left home in the late 1980s, but came to the attention of military officials when Elmore reported the conduct to the Army CID agents at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2015.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. James J. Grazioplene leaves the courthouse at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 2017 after his arraignment on six charges related to raping a minor over the course of six years. He was reduced in rank to second lieutenant in May 2021. (Army Times/Staff)
Retired Army Maj. Gen. James J. Grazioplene leaves the courthouse at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 2017 after his arraignment on six charges related to raping a minor over the course of six years. He was reduced in rank to second lieutenant in May 2021. (Army Times/Staff)

Two years later, on Aug. 26, 2017, Elmore would confront her father in a military courtroom during his Article 32 preliminary hearing. There, for the first time publicly, she outlined the decades of abuse she suffered.

But the military case faltered when a judge ruled the following year that charges couldn’t move forward due to a then-applicable three-year statute of limitations in the Uniform Code of Military Justice on rape or assault charges that occurred before 1986.

Another statute of limitations, five years in such cases that occurred between 1986 and 2006, further stymied prosecuting later episodes of abuse.

The military case died.

That’s when Virginia prosecutors, not bound by the statute of limitations for crimes that had allegedly occurred while Grazioplene and his family were stationed in the state, took over.

In late 2018 a Prince William County grand jury indicted Grazioplene on three rape charges alleged to have happened while the family lived off post in Woodbridge, Virginia, from 1987 to 1988.

The then-retired Grazioplene was arrested and jailed in December 2018, where he remained without bond for the next 18 months.

Jennifer Elmore at ages 13 and 48, flanking her father, now retired Army Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, who in July 2020 pleaded guilty to sexual battery in a Virginia court for years of abuse on his daughter. In May 2021 he was reduced in rank to second lieutenant. (Jennifer Elmore/contributed)
Jennifer Elmore at ages 13 and 48, flanking her father, now retired Army Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, who in July 2020 pleaded guilty to sexual battery in a Virginia court for years of abuse on his daughter. In May 2021 he was reduced in rank to second lieutenant. (Jennifer Elmore/contributed)

A 2020 trial date was set but pushed off for months due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Then, on July 8, 2020, Grazioplene agreed to plead guilty to aggravated sexual battery and was given time served with a suspended sentence of 20 years.

Shortly after the hearing, Elmore told Army Times that the public acknowledgement by her father of what he’d done to her meant everything.

“I wasn’t interested in retribution,” Jennifer told Army Times in 2020. “It was not about asking for something, other than to have the ability to speak the truth,” she said.

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