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Despite crackdown, sexual assaults continue in military's active-duty ranks

Seven years after the Pentagon committed to crack down on sexual crimes in the ranks, such cases continue to plague the military. Of 15 courts-martial at Fort Sill in 2011, five involved sexual assaults, all but one of those on other service members.
by Phillip O'Connor Published: July 9, 2012
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“He was really aggressive,” she said.

The victim testified she felt “trapped, isolated and fearful.”

Her squad leader testified that in the weeks after the attack a motivated soldier who was eager to learn and get promoted became distant, distracted and distrustful of the men in her unit. The assault affected her ability to train and on one occasion forced him to cancel training for the entire squad.

Raczykowski, 18, faced charges that could have cost him up to a year in jail, reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad conduct discharge. Conviction also would have required him to register as a sex offender.

Instead, in a pretrial agreement, Raczykowski, who, like the victim, had only been in the military six months when the assault took place, agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges that eliminated the sexual nature of the crimes and dropped an adultery charge, according to Col. Jeff Pedersen, Fort Sill's staff judge advocate.

Before sentencing, Raczykowski, fresh-faced with close-cropped blond hair, took the witness stand in his Army dress blue uniform. In a voice that showed little emotion, he apologized to the victim and to his family.

He said he knew what he had done was wrong and that he was willing to accept his punishment. He called the assault “the biggest mistake of my life.”

“There are no excuses for my actions,” he said.

When asked by Judge Lt. Col. Patricia Lewis to explain his behavior, the private responded, “I was being stupid and trying to get her attention, your honor.”

He denied several times that his intentions were to gratify his sexual desires or personal lust.

“Just messing around, your honor,” he offered again and again as an explanation.

‘Overwhelming' fear

The military prosecutor, Maj. Jonathon H. Cody, argued Raczykowski's actions were intentional, aggressive and that he'd used physical violence to get his way.

Cody said the attack had made a jovial soldier afraid to trust her squad mates.

“A fear so overwhelming … she's been unable to perform her mission,” Cody said. “A crime so low … needs to be punished harshly.”

Cody asked that Raczykowski receive the maximum sentence to ensure he never did anything like this again and to send a message to others in the unit, which is set to deploy overseas soon.

“It's important for others to know that violating the simple command — do not assault your fellow soldiers — has consequences,” Cody said.

Raczykowski's lawyer, Capt. Michael Townsend Jr., asked for leniency, noting his client's age, potential and short Army career.

Raczykowski's young wife sat in the front-row and, at times, sobbed. The couple married just weeks before the attack while Raczykowski was home on holiday leave.

In the end, the judge sentenced him to seven months confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds of his $1,671 monthly pay for 12 months, reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge.

The sentence still must be approved by McDonald, the commanding general, who could lessen the sentence.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Raczykowski will not have to register as a sex offender, Pedersen said.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Phillip O'Connor
Enterprise Editor
O'Connor joined the Oklahoman staff in June, 2012 after working at The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a combined 28 years. O'Connor, an Oklahoma City resident, is a graduate of Kansas State University. He has written frequently...
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