Grazioplene redux

CNN reports,

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Retired Army Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene on Wednesday admitted to sexually abusing his then-teenage daughter in the 1980s, in exchange for a suspension of his sentence.

His daughter, Jennifer Elmore, turned 49 on Wednesday.

Grazioplene pleaded guilty in a Prince William County, Virginia, circuit court to aggravated sexual battery. He has been in jail for approximately 18 months. He was expected to be released on Wednesday and will serve 20 years of probation, according to Elmore’s lawyer, Ryan Guilds.”

The case will be familiar to military justice practitioners.

Retired Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, 69, faced an Article 32 hearing on charges he had repeatedly raped his daughter at various military postings in the United States and Germany in the 1980s. The military charges were dropped due to statute of limitations issues within the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

His case was affected by CAAF’s decision in Mangahas and others. The U. S. Supreme Ct did not have a chance to rule on CAAF’s Mangahas  decision, but the military statute of limitations is pending before the Supreme Court in two cases. Here is a link to SCOTUSBlog on United States v. Briggs, consolidated with United States v. Collins. In the process it is expected that the Supreme Court will take on the issue of whether Coker v. Georgia really does apply to the military. SCOTUSBlog opines that “it will be interesting to see whether any of the justices demonstrate an appetite for the constitutional issue, or whether they think the statutory interpretation questions are dispositive.” I wonder if the Supreme Court will follow the doctrine of Constitutional avoidance–the usual practice of avoiding constitutional issues if the case can be resolved on a non-constitutional ground?

The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of.

Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Auth., 297 U.S. 288, 347 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring).

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