- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A decorated Marine accused of humiliating and physically abusing those under his command has been convicted of one count of hazing and was sentenced to a reduction in rank, the military said Monday.

Staff Sgt. Dustin A. Barker was convicted Thursday in a general court-martial at Naval Station Norfolk. In addition to the hazing charge, he was convicted of dereliction of duty in a separate incident.

Barker was accused of multiple counts of hazing Marines under his command in 2013 at bases in Virginia and in Cuba when he was a platoon sergeant with the Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment. But he was found guilty in only one incident, in which prosecutors said he ordered one Marine to punch another hard enough to make him urinate blood at the Navy’s base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Barker also was accused of ordering one Marine to strike another with a rock, a third to punch himself in the face, and two others to punch each other. Prosecutors said he made his Marines at the Quantico, Virginia, base run excessive distances while wearing heavy equipment.

At Camp Allen in Norfolk, Barker was accused of requiring an excessive number of advancement exercises known as “buddy rushes” and requiring his Marines to shave one another’s faces.

Barker was found not guilty on those counts. And during the trial, one hazing charge was withdrawn - in which Barker was said to have forced a Marine to cut the grass at Guantanamo Bay with scissors.

Barker’s dereliction-of-duty conviction came for failing to take corrective action at Quantico. Prosecutors said that during live fire training, a Marine was struck by a ricochet in the face.

Barker is originally from Kentucky and joined the Marines in 2002. He racked up a slew of medals and honors throughout a career that took him to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s had two awards for good conduct and one for humanitarian service.

Barker was sentenced Friday to the reduction in rank - to sergeant.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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