Six months. That is all that Major Geoffrey Alleyne, a chaplain and 24-year veteran of the Army, was sentenced two by a court-martial jury after he sexually assaulted Michelle Ten Eyck. Alleyne was court-martialed for repeatedly groping Ten Eyck, a civilian employee of Fort Bliss in Texas.
Ten Eyck repeadedly complained about Alleyne’s attempts to fondle and kiss her, but they were ignored by base officials and other chaplains. She told KFOX 14 that “He might have been sentenced and going to jail but I lost.” Alleyne pled guilty to the charges of sexual assault and battery.
Alleyne apparently fondled her breasts, licked her face, and she had video to prove that this was what happened.
Ten Eyck added her voice to the people who are calling for a complete reformation of the military justice system. She noted that this experience has led her to believe that the military justice system is incapable of dealing with the wave of sexual assaults, harassment and unwanted sexual contacts that have been plaguing the services for some time now. She wants the legal authority in sex abuse cases to be taken out of the chain of command.
Ten Eyck blasted the fact that Congress is unwilling to do that. She said “In Washington, they think that … just retraining people is gonna’ make it better. They need to take all of this out of the military hands.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted down a proposal by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to remove military prosecutions from the chain of command, and the House voted down a proposed version from Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
Alleyne got six months after a plea deal. Had he been convicted of the original charges of sexual assault, he would have gotten at least twenty years in jail.
According to Ten Eyck, Alleyne repeatedly shows up at her office to make advances despite his office being on the other side of the sprawling base. Her complaints were only taken seriously after investigators agreed to set up a hidden video camera within her office. She said that “It showed, the video showed him touching me, touching my breasts, licking my face. And he blocked me in my office, I had nowhere to go.”
Alleyne’s sentencing happened on 19 June, two days before Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno arrived at the post to speak at the Sergeant Majors Academy graduation where he spread a message of zero tolerance for sexual assault that seems to have been heavily undermined by this sentencing.
At a news conference about the sentencing, Odierno stated “It’s important to understand that a problem was identified and action was taken. It doesn’t matter what rank they are or what specialty they are in. We are going to take action.” Odierno also tried to say that the chaplains can be trained to assist in cases of sexual assault. He said “Is there one bad apple [in the Chaplains Corps]? Apparently, yes. It’s like everything in society. It’s not 100 percent. We are human beings, but 99.9 percent of our chaplains do the right thing.”
Unfortunately for Ten Eyck and others, it really seems that the military is prioritizing privilege over justice and acting just like the Roman Catholic Church did for decades when faced with child sexual abuse cases.