One of the Marine drill instructors implicated in the Parris Island recruit hazing scandal has been found not guilty on all counts Wednesday.
The scandal at the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot has resulted in charges for six drill instructors, Sgt. Riley Gress among them, but on Wednesday evening, Gress was determined to be not guilty of violation of a lawful general order, cruelty and maltreatment and a false official statement, Military.com reports.
The special court-martial, featuring a panel of six enlisted Marines and three officers, was held at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va. Had Grees been convicted, he would have received a maximum of 12 months confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
Capt. Geoffrey Ogden, Gress’ lawyer, told Military.com that he was “very happy with the result.”
In 2016, Gress was removed from his post along with with 14 other drill instructors for alleged involvement in illegally hazing Marine recruits. Some of the behavior other drill instructors allegedly perpetrated included shoving a Muslim recruit into an industrial dryer and turning it on.
However, Gress’ case is unrelated to the dryer incident or the death of another Muslim recruit, 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui, who according to official accounts committed suicide after jumping from a stair well on March 18, 2016. Rather, Gress’ removal was in response to an investigation initiated after reports of hazing emerged from recruits of Third Recruit Training Battalion’s Kilo Company, Platoon 3044.
This anonymous April 2016 report, sent to former President Barack Obama, kicked off an investigation, which found that drill instructors forced recruits from Platoon 3044 to fight each other, humiliated recruits and used excessive profanity.
Gress joined the Marine Corps in 2008 as a motor vehicle operator and served in Afghanistan.
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