Third Soldier in Danny Chen Suicide Case Is Sentenced

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Specialist gets a lighter punishment than expected The third military member to go on trial in connection with the Danny Chen suicide case was sentenced to three months in prison and a demotion to private. The punishment again drew the ire of the Chinatown community. Spc. Thomas Porter Curtis pled guilty to hazing, two counts of maltreatment, and two counts of assault. Unlike the previous soldier who was tried, Spc. Ryan Offutt, Curtis was not dishonorably discharged from the military. Curtis is the third of eight military members connected to Chen's suicide on October 3. Prior to his suicide, Chen consistently expressed his frustration with the unprovoked hazing, and at one point indicated to a fellow soldier that it was driving him toward suicide. After the sentencing, Council Member Margaret Chin, who has been a loud voice in the fight for Chen's justice, again voiced her displeasure about the military's seemingly-light punitive action. "Spc. Curtis admitted that he targeted Danny because of his race, he admitted that he knew what he did was wrong, and he admitted that he did it anyway," Chin said. "This is not a person who is fit to serve in the United States Military...the behavior of the soldiers tried in connection with Danny's death paints a sordid picture of the state of our Army" "This is a insipid threat that turns our servicemen and women against one another. Not dishonorably discharging individuals who are found guilty of hazing is to weaken the United States military." The case has ignited vociferous discussion about the treatment of Asian-Americans in the military and the maltreatment of lower-level recruits by their superiors. There was an outrage after the first tried soldier, Sgt. Adam Holcomb, was sentenced to a mere 30 days in military prison, but then it seemed things were going in Chin's direction. After Spc. Ryan Offutt was sentenced to dishonorable discharge, rank demotion, and six months in prison, Chin expressed a more satisfied attitude and indicated a step toward rightful justice. Curtis's punishment, though, can only portend further dissatisfaction from those seeking 'justice' for Chen's suicide. The remaining five members await court marshall in Fort Bragg, N.C. -Nick Gallinelli

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