A senior noncommissioned officer accused of pointing a pistol at one soldier, calling another fat and improperly touching a third’s hair was acquitted of all related charges at her court-martial Wednesday.
Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Barboza was found not guilty of dereliction of duty, maltreatment and disrespecting an NCO by a panel of nine male officers and senior NCOs. At least six of them had to agree to acquit.
“I’m relieved,” said Barboza, 35, of the 2nd NATO Signal Battalion in Naples, “I’m just grateful to the jury members.”
Criminal charges were brought against Barboza after she declined to accept nonjudicial punishment, following a command investigation into complaints about her more than a year ago.
“You won’t see these crimes on ‘Law & Order,’” prosecutor Capt. Mike Gerrity conceded in his closing argument. “But this is the military. Sergeant 1st Class Barboza failed to put her soldiers’ needs above her own.”
Testimony against her included that of two soldiers who said she’d pointed a 9 mm pistol at one of them during weapons training, which Barboza said wasn’t true. Another soldier said Barboza humiliated her by repeatedly calling her fat, while an African-American staff sergeant said Barboza had touched her hair without permission and then called it “nasty” when rebuked.