A soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division trained as a sexual harassment and assault response and prevention (SHARP) representative has been arrested on charges of rape and child endangerment in North Carolina.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Oscar Rene Ruiz, an artillery cannon crewmember assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was arrested last week in Cumberland County and charged with second-degree rape and child endangerment. He was not serving as a SHARP representative at the time of his arrest.
Ruiz, who was serving as an acting company first sergeant, joined the Army in 2009 and has deployed to Afghanistan twice, according to Lt. Col. Mike Burns, an Army spokesman. Ruiz has since been suspended from his duties and administratively flagged, which typically prevents soldiers from being transferred or promoted during ongoing legal matters.
Further details were not immediately available; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to request for comment.
“We expect our Paratroopers to uphold the highest values of the Army, and the overwhelming majority of our Paratroopers embody those values every day, in and out of uniform,” Burns said. “This matter is currently under investigation and is in the capable hands of local authorities, to whom we are dedicating our full support. We take all allegations very seriously and have the utmost confidence in our justice systems.”
“The alleged events are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the standards of our Division,” he said. “Our deepest sympathies are with everyone directly affected by these events.”
News of the arrest comes as the Army continues working through a redesign of its SHARP program after it was discovered to be insufficient and failing to eliminate sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. Some significant changes have already come, including mandating that sexual harassment complaints must be investigated by someone outside the accused soldier’s brigade, and clarifying how quickly commanders should issue a military protective order after a soldier makes a report.
Featured Image: FILE/Augmentees train on handcuff procedures during a 6th SFS augmentee class at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., July 25, 2018. Augmentees learned to control a suspect by holding their index fingers together as a method of preventing escape or hostile maneuvers while placing handcuffs on. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)