Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demoted a retired Army major general to second lieutenant after the top-ranked officer admitted last year to sexually assaulting his daughter while in uniform.
“The Secretary of Defense changed the retired grade of then-Major General James J. Grazioplene, United States Army Retired, to second lieutenant after determining that second lieutenant was the highest grade in which he served on active duty satisfactorily,” a Defense Department spokesperson told American Military News in an email. “This action may not be appealed.”
The spokesperson also noted that Grazioplene will “maintain any benefits or privileges authorized for retired officers in the grade of second lieutenant.”
According to CNN, then-Major General James J. Grazioplene sexually assaulted his now 49-year-old daughter Jennifer Elmore on multiple occasions when she was a child. Grazioplene pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery in a Prince William County, Virginia, circuit court last summer.
During the trial, Elmore detailed the sexual assault, dating as far back as 1974 when she was just three years old.
“At 3, he led me to the dark, dirty basement of my grandmother’s house and put me on the washing machine and pleasured himself while molesting me,” Elmore said, according to a copy of her victim impact statement, CNN reported.
“At 8, he bought me a piano and insisted on taking me to piano lessons, all so he could park and take whatever sick pleasures that he so desired. The same horrors occurring as he regularly insisted on bathing me. It took me until college to be able to use a bar of soap,” she added.
“He stripped me of my dignity, my innocence, my value, my childhood and my voice. All of the things that a father is supposed to protect at the expense of his own life. I will spend a lifetime putting back the shattered pieces you left behind.”
Elmore initially reported the sexual assault to Army officials in 2015, prompting the military to launch an investigation. Authorities were able to find enough evidence to move forward with a trial, but two weeks before the trial was to start, the top military appeals court cited a five-year statute of limitations that exists for military sexual assault. The Justice Department’s appeal was accepted by the Supreme Court and the case was subsequently dismissed from military court.
Refusing to back down, Elmore worked to have the case move forward in Virginia, where a statute of limitations wouldn’t impact her case. A grand jury in the state proceeded, indicting Grazioplene on rape, incest and indecent liberties after an investigation that lasted four months.
After pleading guilty, the officer was sentenced to time served with a suspended sentence of 20 years.
“I wasn’t interested in retribution,” Elmore told Army Times after the hearing, noting that the public acknowledgment from her father was all she wanted. “It was not about asking for something, other than to have the ability to speak the truth.”
Grazioplene, 71, began his military career after graduating from West Point in 1972. After becoming a two-star general, he retired from the service in 2005.