Pfc. Lynndie England, an Army reservist who appeared in photos documenting prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted by a military jury in Texas today of mistreating Iraqi detainees in the notorious lockup.
England, 22, of Fort Ashby, W. Va., was found guilty in a court martial at Fort Hood, Tex., on six of seven counts and faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The same jury of five male officers that convicted her will determine her sentence. The jury reached the verdict in slightly more than two hours.
The diminutive soldier, who worked as a clerk at Abu Ghraib while serving with the 372nd Military Police Company in 2003, was convicted on one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy charge.
England became one of the most recognizable faces of the scandal after photos surfaced showing her holding a naked detainee by a leash around his neck, posing behind a pile of naked detainees and pointing toward the genitals of hooded prisoners. The photos, snapped by fellow soldiers as souvenirs, illustrated a scandal that caused widespread outrage in the United States and around the world, leading to U.S. military investigations and congressional hearings.
England was the last of nine Army reservists to face military justice in the case. Two others were convicted and sentenced by military juries, and the rest made plea agreements, receiving sentences of up to eight years.
One of those already convicted is Pvt. Charles A. Graner Jr., a former specialist in the 372nd whom prosecutors called the ringleader of the abuse and who reportedly fathered England's child. Graner, 37, was found guilty in January and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
During her trial, the defense portrayed England as a naive and childlike figure who was under Graner's sway and obeyed his instructions.
"She was a follower" who was "smitten with Graner," Capt. Jonathan Crisp, England's defense lawyer, said in closing arguments today, the Associated Press reported. "She just did whatever he wanted her to do."
The prosecution argued, however, that England enthusiastically participated in the mistreatment, motivated by "her own sick humor." Prosecutors pointed to testimony that England appeared to enjoy an incident in which detainees were forced to masturbate and were stacked in a pyramid.
"She seemed to be having a good time with all that was going on," Pvt. Jeremy Sivits, a former Abu Ghraib guard, testified last week. Sivits pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to a year in prison.
Graner testified at England's trial last week that he did nothing wrong when he stacked seven naked detainees into a pyramid or put a leash around the neck of a detainee whom he then photographed with England.
"The prisoner was not injured, so I believe I did nothing wrong," Graner said, referring to the leashed detainee. He testified that the seven naked Iraqis were accused of participating in a riot and were stacked into a pyramid as a control technique.
England agreed to plead guilty earlier this year, but a military judge threw out the plea deal after Graner contradicted her statements in his own case by suggesting that she did not realize her actions were wrong.
England gave birth to a son, reportedly fathered by Graner, in October 2004. She joined the Army reserve in Cumberland, Md., in 2001 while she was attending high school and working a night job at a chicken-processing plant.