- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000

An Army review of the circumstances in which a homosexual private was beaten to death by a fellow soldier at Fort Campbell, Ky., last year has concluded that no officers should be held responsible for the killing and that there is no general "climate" of homophobia at the base, officials said yesterday.
A report by the Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Michael Ackerman, found troublesome anti-homosexual attitudes among some members of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division the unit in which the killing took place, according to senior defense officials who have seen the report.
But it concluded that the 101st Airborne as a whole has no unusual degree of homophobia, the officials said. The officials agreed to discuss the report's conclusions on the condition they not be identified.
The report's results are expected to be made public on Friday, along with the findings of a Defense Department advisory group that Defense Secretary William S. Cohen formed last spring to draft an "action plan" for each of the military services to address the problem of harassment of homosexuals.
The panel appointed by Mr. Cohen will recommend that service members of all ranks receive more tailored forms of training on how to properly implement the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals, in which gay service members are allowed to serve as long as they don't reveal their sexual orientation, officials said. Mr. Cohen appointed the panel after the Defense Department inspector general reported in March that harassment based on perceived homosexuality is widespread in the military.
Mr. Cohen's spokesman, Kenneth Bacon, declined to comment on either the Army report or the advisory panel's findings.
As first reported Monday by CBS News, the inspector general's report says no commanders at Fort Campbell are to be faulted for the circumstances under which 21-year-old Pfc. Barry Winchell was bludgeoned to death in his barracks.
Charles Butler, lawyer for Patricia Kutteles, Pfc. Winchell's mother in Kansas City, Mo., said the Army has evidence that Pfc. Winchell's company commander was alerted to anti-homosexual harassment of Pfc. Winchell before the killing but did not act.
"It appears that the Army isn't willing to accept responsibility for the circumstances surrounding Barry Winchell's murder," Mr. Butler said in an interview. He said he had not seen the Army report.
The Army inspector general's investigation at Fort Campbell was requested by Maj. Gen. Robert T. Clark, who was commander of the 101st Airborne at the time. Gen. Clark has since been assigned to an important post in the Pentagon, and the report concludes that he should be not be held responsible for the killing last July.
The report's conclusions are to be reviewed by Gen. Clark's successor, Maj. Gen. Richard A. Cody.
Pvt. Calvin Glover was convicted by a military court and sentenced to life in prison for beating Pfc. Winchell to death with a baseball bat. Pfc. Winchell's roommate, Spc. Justin R. Fisher, was sentenced to 12* years in prison for his role in the killing. At Pvt. Glover's trial, soldiers testified that Pfc. Winchell has been relentlessly taunted with anti-homosexual slurs in the months leading up to his slaying.
The incident renewed a national debate over the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which critics say does not work because it has failed to protect perceived homosexuals from harassment.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide