Army Rejects Appeal From Green Beret Fired After Confronting Rapist
Even as the U.S. military denies reports that American troops were told to ignore Afghan child abusers, an 11-year Green Beret who was ordered discharged after he confronted an alleged rapist was informed Tuesday that the Army has denied his appeal.
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland earlier this year was ordered discharged by Nov. 1. He has been fighting to stay in, but in an initial decision, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command told Martland that his appeal "does not meet the criteria" for an appeal.
"Consequently, your request for an appeal and continued service is disapproved," the office wrote in a memo to Martland.
The memo was shared with FoxNews.com by the office of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has advocated for Martland's case. According to Hunter's office, Martland learned of the decision Tuesday.
The memo, dated Sept. 14, comes as the Defense Department comes under criticism amid reports that U.S. soldiers were instructed to look the other way when Afghan troops and officers were sexually abusing boys.
Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement Tuesday that he is "absolutely confident that no such theater policy has ever existed here, and certainly, no such policy has existed throughout my tenure as commander."
He said he expects "any suspicions of sexual abuse will be immediately reported to the chain of command," and he has personally spoken with President Ashraf Ghani on the issue.
"I want to make absolutely clear that any sexual abuse or similar mistreatment of others, no matter the alleged perpetrator or victim, is completely unacceptable, and reprehensible," he said.
But Martland's case has raised questions about the military's handling of such allegations.
As first reported by Fox News, while deployed to Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, Martland and his team leader confronted a local police commander in 2011 accused of raping an Afghan boy and beating his mother. When the man laughed off the incident, they shoved him to the ground.
Martland and his team leader were later removed from the base, and eventually sent home from Afghanistan. The U.S. Army has not confirmed the specifics of Martland's separation from service citing privacy reasons, but a "memorandum of reprimand" from October 2011 obtained by Fox News makes clear that Martland was criticized by the brass for his intervention after the alleged rape. Asked for comment Tuesday on the latest decision memo, an Army spokesman reiterated, "the U.S. Army is unable to confirm the specifics of his separation due to the Privacy Act."
Hunter has asked for Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to get involved, and continues to do so after the Army's initial decision denying Martland's appeal. The latest memo strictly reflects the Army's decision, and not necessarily any review from Carter's office.
The memo to Martland said his appeal was rejected because appeals can only be considered for "cases with material error, newly discovered evidence" or removal of certain documents. The memo says that while the office's "decision is final," Martland can still appeal to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.
Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said Martland essentially was denied on a "technicality" because no new information was provided.
"The process has failed abysmally," he told FoxNews.com on Tuesday, urging top officials to intervene.
"At this point, somebody's better judgment ... has to prevail," he said.
As for the mounting controversy over the handling of child abuse cases, Kasper said this "sends a loud and clear message to all soldiers and military personnel that if you do intervene ... because it's morally the right thing to do, it could be at the risk of your career."
Hunter on Tuesday sent a letter urging Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., to put the nomination of President Obama's new Army secretary pick on hold until Martland's situation, and one other case, are resolved.
Before learning about the latest Martland memo, Hunter wrote another letter to Carter on Monday seeking information on DoD guidance regarding the reporting of child abuse. He said he was "gravely concerned" over reports that soldiers were advised to "look the other way."
"This is not only unconscionable -- frankly, it's un-American," he wrote.
-- Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.
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