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Marine sergeant found not guilty in hazing case

February 16, 2012
The Maui Weekly

USA Today - A court martial of three officers and five enlisted Marines announced their verdict after deliberating for close to an hour at Kaneohe Bay. The not-guilty verdict was delivered to Sgt. Benjamin Johns, who had been accused of humiliating Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, who later committed suicide in Afghanistan.

Johns was accused of hazing Lew by forcing him to dig a hole as punishment for falling asleep during guard duty. He was also accused of neglecting to intervene when Lew was ordered to carry a sandbag around the base.

Johns attorney Tim Bilecki defended him with the argument that the foxhole was necessary to protect the base and to keep Lew from falling asleep while on duty.

"If something is necessary for the mission, it's not hazing," Bilecki said.

Johns is one of three Marines on trial for hazing Lew, who fatally shot himself on April 3 in Afghanistan. Lew was the 21-year-old nephew of U.S. Rep Judy Chu, D-Calif.



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