U.S. Marshals ‘actively' investigating unregistered military sex offenders

Investigation confirmed on heels of Scripps report

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Marshals Service says it is “actively” investigating military sex offenders for failing to put their names on public registries as required, including some cases recently exposed by Scripps News.  

The announcement follows a nine-month Scripps investigation, which studied 1,312 military court martial convictions for sex offenses. The report revealed  that nearly one in five of those offenders do not appear on any of the public sex offender registries in the United States that were created to alert the public and prevent repeat crimes.

The Marshals Service declined to disclose the number of investigations it has underway or the names of those it is looking into.

“The Marshals Service actively investigates former military personnel, discharged for sex offenses and not complying with registration requirements, including some of those published by Scripps,” Drew Wade, chief of public affairs for the Marshals Service, said in an e-mailed statement.  

 “We do not discuss ongoing, active investigations or information regarding specific individuals,” he wrote.

The Scripps report highlighted offenders such as former Army specialist Basil Kingsberry, who was convicted of “rape” and “forcible sodomy” at an Army court martial in 1999.  The Army released him from Fort Leavenworth in July 2005 and he eventually moved to Georgia, but never made it onto any registries.

Kingsberry is now the subject of a three-state manhunt that began after Scripps contacted local law enforcement officials last fall. In Georgia, officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) stated they had written letters marked “urgent” to the Army back in 2005 seeking details about the Kingsberry case. The GBI says it never got a response.

GBI’s director, Vernon Keenan, says Georgia officials eventually ruled Kingsberry did not have to register. He now says that decision was a mistake.

In August, the Department of Defense inspector general concluded that the military’s current inability to register sex offenders like Kingsberry on its own, while they are still in military custody, “enables offenders to evade registration.

Keenan called such miscommunications and registry gaps “very dangerous.”

Rep. Jackie Speier of the House Armed Services Committee has pledged to introduce a bill in Congress that would give the military the authority it currently lacks.

Speier on Monday commended the Marshals for moving forward, but said in a statement, “Hunting down just ‘some’ offenders after the fact isn’t going to solve the problem.”

“We need a system that warns communities when the military is releasing sex offenders into their midst, or sexual predators will continue to go undetected,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense, Lt. Commander Nate Christensen, has stated the Pentagon plans to announce a new, DOD-wide policy intended to address the issue by early spring.

“The Department takes this issue very seriously and that is why we have been, and remain in the process of developing department-wide policy and a partnership with the United States Marshals Service, which will ensure that convicted sex-offenders fully comply with (sex offender registration and notification requirements) as the law intends,” he said in a statement.

If you have a tip or an update about a military sex offender, email mark.greenblatt@scripps.com. You can also follow updates to this story on Twitter @greenblattmark

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