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FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — The death of a soldier the day before his sentencing for child sex crimes is under investigation by the Army, and has left the victim’s family frustrated about what they see as a lack of justice.
Pvt. Rashad Roybal-McIntosh had been found guilty in an Army court martial of rape of a child and indecent exposure, according to the victim’s father, but was found dead on March 26.
Since the private had not yet been sentenced, the charges against him will be withdrawn.
“I don’t want people to think he was a good guy,” said the victim’s father, in a phone call with the Times. “He wasn’t a good guy. He was a predator.”
The father said he was informed by Army officials that Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh’s death was ruled a suicide, but that could not be confirmed independently.
Maj. Isaac L. Taylor, 10th Mountain Division deputy public affairs officer, said Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh’s death is under review by special agents from U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. He said investigators do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation, but have not ruled it out. Maj. Taylor said he could not release additional details about the investigation.
He described the private as “pending trial,” explaining that accused soldiers are presumed not guilty until they are both found guilty and subsequently sentenced.
The Times does not identify victims of sex crimes, and is withholding the father’s name to protect the victim’s identity.
The victim’s father, a Fort Drum soldier himself, had been on post for less than a year when the incident happened in September 2017.
The father said he was frustrated that after the charges were initially filed, Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh was able to train with his unit and move around post. He said he rushed back from a training event in the field after his wife encountered Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh doing physical training on post.
“We’re blown away by the fact the Army let him run around,” the father said. “He roamed free around the post.”
Maj. Taylor said a military judge can determine if there should be any restrictions of freedom for accused soldiers after a determination of guilt.
Greg T. Rinckey, founding partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC and a former Army attorney, said military law makes it clear that the charges should be dismissed since Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh had not been formally sentenced. In many cases, he said, soldiers who are sentenced but die before getting a chance to appeal conviction have their charges cleared.
“He hasn’t had the benefit of full review of his conviction,” Mr. Rinckey said. “It’s unfair to allow him to continue with a conviction that hasn’t been subject to any review.”
He said there have been past cases questioning the number of appeals allowed to a service member who dies before their sentence remains on their record.
“What point do we cut it off? That’s where it gets more questions,” he said.
In the Fort Drum case, Mr. Rinckey said the private’s death before sentencing made the issue more clear-cut.
“He’s not going to die with a conviction,” he said.
The victim’s father said that he was worried the lack of a conviction on Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh’s record would be reflected in potential benefits and burial honors.
“The fact he could have gotten a military burial is disgusting to me,” he said.
Since Pvt. Roybal-McIntosh’s conviction was never formalized, “he may be entitled to it, (and) some form of compensation, which is ridiculous.”
Of more concern, he said, is ensuring his daughter would be able to receive care into the future.
Maj. Taylor said the Army provides a full range of services to personnel and family members who are victims of sexual assault, as required by federal law.
However, the father said he was concerned that the care would only be available while he was in the Army.
“This has affected my daughter in so many ways; this will be a lifetime issue,” he said. “This won’t go away.”