The two-year investigation into hazing at Parris Island, South Carolina, may reach a conclusion in March when a former recruit battalion commander faces a general court-martial on charges related to drill-instructor misconduct.
Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon is the only officer out of seven Marines who have been referred to court-martial following investigations into allegations of abuse against recruits. He was fired as commander of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion in March 2016.
Kissoon’s charges were not directly related to the death of recruit Raheel Siddiqui in 2015, which sparked a series of hazing investigations. Siddiqui’s drill instructor was accused of targeting him for special hazing because he was a Muslim. The DI slapped Siddiqui moments before the 20-year-old Pakistani-American from Michigan fatally jumped down a 40-foot stairwell.
Here’s a preview of what’s in store for the Marines in 2018.
Marine prosecutors have targeted Kissoon for court-martial while granting more lenient plea agreements to several others accused of misconduct.
Prosecutors say Kissoon wrongly allowed an abusive drill instructor to oversee Siddiqui’s platoon even though that DI, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, was under investigation for prior hazing allegations.
Felix was sentenced to 10 years in prison, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge on Nov. 10 after a military jury found him guilty of physically abusing recruits, including Siddiqui.
Exactly how Felix became Siddiqui’s drill instructor has not been fully explained. Col. Paul D. Cucinotta, then commanding officer of the Recruit Training Regiment, had given verbal and written orders that Felix not return to drill instructor duty until an investigation into the prior incident had been completed.
Kissoon’s trial is slated to run from March 12-21 in Quantico, Virginia.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix will also be reduced in rank to E1 and receive a dishonorable discharge.