The first wave of court-martial hearings for drill instructors charged with hazing, following widespread investigations after the death of Muslim recruit Raheel Siddiqui, began this week in Quantico, Virginia.
The first Marine to be tried was former Parris Island Drill Instructor Sgt. Riley R. Grass.
Sgt. Grass is accused of cruelty and maltreatment, falsifying official statements and violating a general order, for all of which he has entered a plea of not guilty.
Grass is one of many Marines now facing court-martial for various hazing charges, many of which have stemmed from the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, or 3rd RTB, which serves as one of four major training battalions located on Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island.
Investigations began shortly after the suicide death of Muslim recruit Raheel Siddiqui, who fell from the third floor of his barracks after less than two weeks at basic training.
Siddiqui’s death sparked an outrage among those who knew him, causing Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) to get involved and prompt a series of inquiries into the cause of his death.
The inquiries uncovered multiple instances where recruits were handled by Parris Island drill instructors in an unprofessional and even demeaning manner.
From being shoved into washing machines to being verbally assaulted in a violent and racially motivated way, the investigation found that many drill instructors aboard the installation were abusing their powers of authority and acting outside the boundaries of the UCMJ.
According to reports, it does not appear as if Sgt. Grass’s case is directly linked to the death of Siddiqui.
Sgt Grass and others were implicated in following hazing investigations, and five other drill instructors await trial in the coming weeks for similar charges.