Army soldier reprimanded for abusing a fellow soldier's wife receives 13 years in prison after a new investigation triggers a flood of criminal charges
A United States Army soldier who was reprimanded for assaulting a fellow soldier's wife at a 2017 Super Bowl party has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on a number of rape and sexual harassment charges, the majority of which stem from events that occurred after the initial allegations against him were made.
The Army Times reported that the accuser, Leah Ramirez, reported Staff Sgt. Randall Hughes to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command the day after the assault. She told authorities that her husband spent the evening downing shots of whisky with Hughes and another commanding officer, finally collapsing in their home near Fort Bliss, Texas.
After putting her husband to bed and clearing the party, Ramirez said Hughes asked her for sex. When she rejected his advances, he pulled her upstairs and raped her.
Her accusations sparked a year-long investigation, with investigators eventually finding that the facts backed up her claims. Rather than face a criminal prosecution, Hughes received a slap on the wrist in the form of a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand for his personnel file.
“They simply informed me that the command said that this is how it was — this is how it is,” Ramirez explained.
Hughes assaulted another woman in Fort Bliss a few months later, according to court records.
The accused officer was then transferred to Fort Dix and assigned to New Jersey, where he was again confronted with accusations by multiple women, including his teen daughter.
In 2020, after seeing the General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand in Hughes' record, agents with the Criminal Investigative division opened another investigation into him. The investigation resulted in criminal charges against five individuals spanning more than a decade.
Hughes agreed to a plea bargain that covered all 2017 offenses and pleaded guilty on March 30 to two counts of rape, two counts of sexual harassment committed by battery, one count of sexual abuse of a minor, one count of assault committed by battery on a child, one count of lewd language, and one count of adultery.
Lesley Madsen, now 17, told the Army Times, which identified her at her request and with her mother's consent, that her father drugged and coerced her on March 25, 2020. Hughes did not enter a plea to the charges arising from his daughter's alleged rape.
“He was taking a plea bargain, and he decided to plead to get the shortest sentence possible,” Madsen said. “Had I said no, it would have taken years of litigation. It was the only way to have closure for everyone and to apprehend him before he could do something else.”
According to victims of some recent incidents, their suffering may have been avoided if Hughes had been charged years earlier in connection with the 2017 cases.
Col. Don Christensen, retired Air Force chief prosecutor and current president of Protect Our Defenders, stated that failing to prosecute sexual predators is fairly common within the United States armed forces. He was not present at Hughes' trial but is acquainted with the event.
“Contrary to the persistent misconception that convicted military sex abusers are punished often, the truth is that the chain of command almost never refers a suspect to court,” he told the Army Times.
“[The command] should be appalled that their inability to prosecute the rapist allowed a sex offender to commit a crime spree against multiple victims.”