NEW YORK CITY — Another solider who pleaded guilty Monday for hazing Chinatown native Pvt. Danny Chen in the weeks leading up to his suicide has been allowed to remain in the army.
Spc. Thomas P. Curtis, the fifth of eight soldiers who have been placed on trial on charges they contributed to Chen’s death last year, admitted to hazing, maltreating and assaulting the 19-year-old solider.
He was sentenced to three months confinement and a reduction in rank, but allowed to remain in the military. Chen’s supporters have called the punishments a slap on the wrist, and called for all soldiers found guilty of the hazing to be booted from the Army.
"Spc. Curtis admitted that he targeted Danny because of his race, he admitted that he knew what he did was wrong, and he admitted that he did it anyway," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who is one of many community leaders that have brought Chen’s case into the national spotlight. "This is not a person who is fit to serve in the United States Military."
"Not dishonorably discharging individuals who are found guilty of hazing [will] weaken the United States military," the councilwoman later added.
Curtis pleaded guilty to five charges during the court marital at the Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina where the trials are taking place. He admitted to kicking and dragging Chen as well as striking Chen with his knee.
While on a tour of Afghanistan, Chen was found in a guard tower on Oct. 3 2011 with a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head.
Other soldiers have already been given jail time including Staff Sgt. Blaine Dugas, who was second of Chen's platoon. Dugas was sentenced to three months confinement, but a judge credited him with entire time served already.
Another officer, Spc. Ryan Offutt, brokered a plea deal for his role in the hazing. The deal included accepting a dishonorable discharge from the Army.