Former Fort Bragg sergeant major faces charges of impeding sexual assault investigation

A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Bragg. (Fish Cop./WikiCommons)

A former Fort Bragg command sergeant major who has since been demoted and allegedly forged documents to retire in the midst of an Army investigation now faces new charges.

A trial against Master Sgt. Clinton M. Murray is set to begin Oct. 11 on the new charges of desertion, failure to obey a regulation, extortion, impeding a sexual investigation and revenge porn, according to an Army trial docket and charge sheet. Murray has pleaded not guilty.

Further details about Murray’s latest case are found in federal documents after he filed a lawsuit on July 17, 2020, seeking a temporary restraining order against being recalled to active-duty military status. The case was ultimately dismissed.

Murray was found guilty in January 2020 following court-martial proceedings at Fort Bragg of having an inappropriate relationship while deployed to Afghanistan with a private first class between July 1, 2017, and Dec 30, 2017. He was reprimanded and demoted one step in rank to master sergeant.

He was found not guilty of sexual assault of the junior enlisted soldier and a charge of maltreatment of subordinates was dismissed. Also dismissed was an allegation that Murray fostered “the perception of undue familiarity” with a first lieutenant in Afghanistan between April 1, 2017, and Dec. 30, 2017, the record shows.

At the time he was charged, he was command sergeant major of the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, according to his enlistment records included in the federal court filing.

According to the federal lawsuit, the latest charges came about during the course of the court-martial.

Included in the records is a sworn statement from Maj. Clifford Walters, chief of military justice for 82nd Airborne Division, in which Walters states that during the court-martial an Army officer informed the trial team that she assisted Murray in covering up evidence of the sexual assault and inappropriate relationship charges at Murray’s request.

The officer told officials she had an adulterous relationship with Murray and that he asked her to destroy evidence that supported allegations in the case.

Walters stated that based on the new information, the Army Criminal Investigation Division started a second investigation related to obstruction of justice and that Murray was notified Feb. 6, 2020, that he was under investigation and “would remain flagged until the investigation ended,” meaning he could not be promoted, change duty stations or discharge from service.

In a legal response to the lawsuit, officials said he sought medical retirement through the Disability Evaluation System in March 2019, but he was already charged with UCMJ offenses and “flagged” to suspend favorable personnel actions because of the investigation.

A disability evaluation system record stated that Murray has suffered from back pain since a 2003 deployment to Iraq, had subsequent injuries after multiple bad parachute landings during his 21-year career and that he has a traumatic brain injury and sleep issues.

The documents state that Murray’s battalion commander notified the Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer about the new investigation that started in February 2020 and that Murray couldn’t be separated until the investigation was completed or adjudicated.

Walters’ affidavit alleges that Murray “forged multiple signatures in order to clear his unit and proceed with retirement,” and the retirement was revoked.

According to July 2020 motion filed on Murray’s behalf, he “honorably retired from the Army on June 8, 2020.”

The motion states that Murray was informed he was recalled to active duty when he received a voicemail from his previous company commander stating that the retirement orders were revoked and that he would receive a letter.

The complaint claims Murray did not receive a letter and retained an attorney, who received an email from a military prosecutor July 17, 2020, with documents about Murray’s orders to report back to active duty.

The legal response filed on behalf of the Army states that Murray “erroneously” received retirement orders.

The court records allege that out-processing paperwork for Murray had forged signatures.

A staff sergeant said the signature on the paperwork was not her signature. The document, included in the filing, shows a handwritten signature. The staff sergeant said she uses a stamp with the unit logo when signing discharge paperwork.

A first sergeant also said a signature on the document was not his and that his name was misspelled.

Additionally, the documents show, changes were made on the unit clearance form coded as “ordinary” leave” and later changed to “terminal” leave — a term describing when retiring or discharging soldiers use leave leading up to their discharge date.

When Murray’s new battalion commander learned on June 25, 2020, that Murray was “no longer with the Army,” his retirement was voided, the record shows.

A July 23, 2020, response filed on behalf of the Army defendants, opposed Murray’s motion for the temporary restraining order stating it would “unjustifiably interfere with the Army’s internal procedures, specifically those pertaining to the Army’s ability to maintain good order and discipline, and to adhere to its own regulatory processes.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rogers wrote in the legal response that an injunction in the case would “interfere with military function.”

“In fact, should this court grant (Murray) the relief he seeks, it will needlessly frustrate the Army’s ability to apply discipline in a case where (Murray) is being investigated for criminal activity in the course of his duties as a senior noncommissioned officer,” Rogers wrote.

According to the Fort Bragg charge sheet, Murray was absent from his unit — Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division— from July 17, 2020, until he was apprehended Aug. 26, 2020.

The pending charges allege the following:

—that Murray violated an Army regulation by having an intimate or sexual relationship with a commissioned officer between Sept. 1, 2017, to May 1, 2018, while in Fayetteville and while deployed near Kabul, Afghanistan.

—that he tried to extort a woman, whose name is redacted from the report, between May 19 and May 20, 2018, by obtaining intimate visual images and threatening to divulge the relationship to the woman’s husband and her employer — the Army.

—that he attempted to impede a sexual assault investigation between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, 2017, by requesting an individual, whose name is redacted from the report, to destroy physical evidence of alleged sexual conduct.

—that he broadcast intimate images of an unnamed woman on June 18, 2018.

The sexual assault charge is tied to an allegation that Murray had sex with the woman on May 21, 2018, and again threatened to tell her husband and the Army about the relationship.

Additionally, he is accused of fraudulently separating from the Army between June 1 to June 30, 2020, “under the guise of a medical retirement while flagged for investigation,” the charge sheet states.

A spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division did not comment on the pending charges and noted they are “merely accusations and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”


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