TWO Marine instructors from Quantico charged with rape in Missouri training scandal

Wednesday, August 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

QUANTICO, Va. (AP) _ Two Marine instructors from Quantico Marine Corps Base have been charged with raping trainees at a military base in Missouri.

If convicted or rape, they could be sentenced to life in the brig.

Howard Ross, 34, of Baltimore, a staff sergeant demoted to private, also faces charges of sexual harassment, sexual intercourse and theft from students.

Additional charges against Staff Sgt. Bernard Smith, 29, include having sex with students, drinking alcohol and fraternizing with students, and assaulting students.

``The allegations of rape are unquestionably of a very serious nature,'' Maj. Timothy Keefe, a Quantico spokesman, told The Washington Post.

The rape allegations against Ross and Smith involve two women in separate incidents during a training detachment in June 2000 based at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, authorities said. The course was supervised from Quantico Marine Corps Base.

In April, six Marine instructors, including Ross and Smith, were charged with sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual relations. None had been charged with rape.

``During the course of the investigation, additional allegations were made and investigated,'' Keefe said.

Ross pleaded guilty in April to charges including fraternization with a student, and transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography.

Pretrial hearings are expected this fall.

Special courts-martial have been set for the other Marine instructors beginning next month at Quantico.