Local

August 2, 2013

Two guilty pleas, two sex offenders, several scars to heal

Capt. Mitchell Suliman
OSJA, NTC and Fort Irwin

On June 19, Sgt. Enos Miller pled guilty to violating Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 120b for committing lewd acts upon a child. The military judge overseeing his plea sentenced him to seven months confinement and a bad conduct discharge. The following day, Spc. Kevin Rodriguez pled guilty to violating UCMJ Article 120b and 134 for molesting and annoying underage children, and UCMJ Article 92 for failure to obey a lawful order. Rodriguez was sentenced to 24 months confinement, a bad conduct discharge, and received a grade reduction to E-1. Both Soldiers must register as sex offenders and now face a lifetime of challenges that such a registration and bad conduct discharge places upon them.

Miller committed lewd acts upon a 15-year-old girl he met at his 2-year-old niece’s birthday party.
After asking the victim to be his “friend” on Facebook, he spent the next month messaging her and sending her nude photos of himself. Many of his messages were sexually explicit, asking and saying things to a 15-year-old girl that no 33-year-old, married non-commissioned officer, such as Miller, should. At trial, Miller admitted to doing these things to gratify his own sexual desires.

Rodriguez approached six underage girls while he drove around Fort Irwin’s middle school and family neighborhoods. He would stop the girls to tell them how good they looked and to try to get their phone numbers. After being caught the first time, the 22-year-old, married Soldier disobeyed his troop commander’s direct order to stay away from children and subsequently approached two more underage girls.
Rodriguez’s most concerning action was taking one of the victim’s cell phone from her hand so that he could secure her number and proposition her by text the next day. Similar to Miller, he too admitted to doing these things to gratify his own sexual desires.

This type of behavior is crude and reprehensible, and therefore has no place in the Army. What is particularly concerning is how both Soldiers targeted underage females, seeking them out while they were isolated. Sex crimes have no place in the Army. The President, Gen. Raymond Odierno, and the SHARP training that Soldiers take make this abundantly clear. When it comes to children, these crimes are even scarier and have consequences, which reverberate well beyond individual Soldiers or single families.

Here, victim after victim, testified how Miller’s and Rodriguez’s actions terrified them, making them question if they would be abducted and sexually assaulted. A number of the victims testified about nightmares that they now have and how their lives have been radically changed; they are unable to trust others, go out after dark, or walk anywhere alone. What these young ladies said shows how real and damaging are the consequences of sex crimes.

There is no place for this conduct in our military and in our society. Our military is built on integrity, leadership and team work. Soldiers are supposed to defend and protect those who cannot protect themselves. When a Soldier instead decides to prey on the helpless, he threatens our shared values and foundation. Miller and Rodriguez, as Soldiers, should have known better, particularly Miller. As an NCO, Miller’s egregious conduct violated the creed he espoused and the core principles of the Army he vowed to lead.

Our Army continues to make every effort to curb sexual assaults. When crimes such as these occur and are substantiated, the Army will act, including prosecuting Soldiers when merited. Both Miller and Rodriguez were mentally competent and legally responsible for what they did. They gave no justifications for their crimes and pled guilty to the charged offenses. Despite their service, Miller and Rodriguez are no longer eligible for most Army benefits, including Veterans Affairs benefits. With a bad conduct discharge showing on their DD 214 military release form and a sex offender registration, finding civilian employment may prove difficult.




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