published Thursday, September 8th, 2011

3 Marines accused of hazing to appear in court

HONOLULU — Three Hawaii-based Marines are appearing in a military court to face accusations of hazing and beating a fellow Marine who would later committed suicide in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Benjamin E. Johns, Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III and Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Jacoby face an Article 32 hearing, the military justice equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. The hearing will be held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, where the three are assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

The hearing is set for Thursday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, where the three are based.

The Marines are charged with "wrongfully humiliating and demeaning" 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, of Santa Clara, Calif., who committed suicide April 3 in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Johns, 26, and Orozco, 22, are also accused of dereliction for failing to supervise and ensure the welfare of Marines under their care.

Orozco, 22, allegedly ordered Lew "to do push-ups, side planks, leg lifts with a sandbag, while wearing full personal protective equipment and pouring sand onto his face," according to the cruelty and maltreatment charge against Orozco. He is also charged with assault for kicking Lew in the head and stomping on his back.

Jacoby, 21, is accused of kicking and punching Lew in the head. He is also charged with threatening Lew with harm.

Lt. Col. Curtis L. Hill earlier said in a statement that, "the Marine Corps does not tolerate hazing of any kind. When allegations of hazing are made, they are investigated and if substantiated, appropriate corrective action is taken."

Hill also said the military justice system, "will be transparent to the fullest extent possible under the law to demonstrate fairness and accountability."

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