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Military court upholds 10-year prison term for ex-Parris Island drill instructor who abused Muslim recruits
A military court denied the appeal of a former Parris Island drill instructor sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing three Muslim recruits, including Raheel Siddiqui of Taylor, who died during boot camp in 2016.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed the 2017 court-martial of Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix Jr. and affirmed his conviction and sentence.
In a decision issued last week, the court called Felix a "bully" whose "misconduct impacted an entire generation of Marines."
"The appellant was placed in a position of trust, charged with turning young men into Marines. He was one of their first authority figures — their first example of what a Marine was supposed to be," Senior Judge and Capt. Frank D. Hutchison wrote for the court.
"Instead of providing a positive example and conducting meaningful training, he taught his recruits, by his example, that rule-breaking was commonplace and that violence against fellow Marines was not only acceptable, but required to instill discipline. Not only did he fail to correct or report his subordinates' bad behavior, he encouraged it and participated in worse and more pervasive behavior."
The last of the former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructors implicated in perhaps the most notorious trainee abuse scandal the Corps has seen in more than six decades has pleaded guilty to multiple violations of military code and is being separated from the service.
This story has been updated to reflect that Marine Corps Training and Education Command commander Maj. Gen. Kevin Iiams has, as the court-martial convening authority, the ability to adjust Joseph Felix’s sentence after reviewing the case.
A jury has found a former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructor guilty of abusing three Muslim former trainees, multiple violations of military law and striking a recruit in the face moments before his fatal fall.
A military court has heard all evidence in the U.S. government’s case against a former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructor accused of hitting, kicking, choking and otherwise abusing nearly 20 trainees he was responsible for making into Marines.