US soldier walks away from her post in Iraq due to sexual harassment

The U.S. Army has reached a deal with a military police soldier who walked away from her post and refused to return to Iraq because she said she was sexually harassed by other officers.

U.S. Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, 22, of Eugene, Oregon, had been scheduled for a special court-martial next month for missing movement and being absent without leave.

In a deal reached Dec. 7, Swift agreed to plead guilty to the charges, Fort Lewis officials said Monday. Under the agreement, Swift avoids the possibility of a federal conviction on her record and will remain eligible for an honorable discharge once she completes her five years of service.

The maximum punishment is less severe than the 12 months confinement and bad-conduct discharge Swift faced if convicted in a special court-martial, said Greg Gagne, Swift's attorney.

Her maximum punishment now is a reduction in rank, to private, forfeiture of two-thirds salary for one month and 30 days confinement.

"There's no punitive discharge available, so she can" continue her military career, Gagne said.

Swift also would be reassigned to a new post, with an opportunity for a new job, he said, reports AP.

Swift served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. Her unit was sent back in January 2006, but she refused to go and stayed away for roughly five months. Swift said her supervisor in Iraq coerced her into a sexual relationship.

Swift was arrested at her mother's home in Eugene in June. She claimed she had been harassed or abused by three noncommissioned officers two in Iraq and one at Fort Lewis in May 2005.

She was charged Sept. 27.

The Army investigated Swift's allegations and substantiated one against a soldier at Fort Lewis. That soldier later left the Army after receiving a written reprimand from his battalion commander and being reassigned to another unit.

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