AWOL Soldier To Plead Guilty To Avoid Prison
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
SEATTLE, Dec. 11 -- A soldier who said she was sexually harassed by noncommissioned officers, prompting her to leave her post and refuse to return to Iraq, has agreed to plead guilty to going AWOL in exchange for a reduced punishment, the Army said Monday.
Spec. Suzanne Swift, 22, of Eugene, Ore., had been scheduled for a court-martial next month on charges of missing movement and being absent without leave.
As part of a deal reached Thursday, she will avoid the possibility of a federal conviction on her record and will remain eligible for an honorable discharge once she completes her five years of service, Fort Lewis officials said Monday.
Swift faced the prospect of prison time and bad-conduct discharge if convicted, said Greg Gagne, her attorney. Her maximum punishment now would be a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of two-thirds of her salary for one month and 30 days' confinement. She also would be assigned to a new post, Gagne said.
Swift returned in February 2005 from serving a year in Iraq. Her unit was sent back in January, but she refused to go and stayed away for about five months.
She said she had been harassed or abused by three noncommissioned officers, two in Iraq and one at Fort Lewis in May 2005. Swift's allegations were the focus of a Washington Post article in September.