Saturday, June 22, 2013

A murder-suicide and the dark side of military recruiting

A murder-suicide and the dark side of military recruiting
Suzy Khimm

To her parents, Michelle Miller was a devoted daughter, a fierce lacrosse player, and a driven high school senior who dreamed of becoming an Army psychologist.

To the Army recruiter who ended her life, she was just “Babyface.”

Staff Sgt. Adam Arndt, 31, had an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with Michelle Miller, 17, while he was supervising the young recruit’s preparations for basic training, according to a legal claim filed by Miller’s parents. On April 8, both were found dead in his Germantown, Md., home: Arndt told Miller that he was feeling suicidal, then shot her when she came to his home, before killing himself.

Miller’s family has now filed a $10 million claim against the Army, alleging that Arndt’s superiors failed to supervise him adequately and stop the predatory behavior of a married man who had wed one of his former recruits just a year earlier.

“It’s not going to bring back my daughter’s life, but maybe we can save other children,” said her mother Pacita Miller, wearing Michelle’s jewelry and dog tags over her office clothes. “Who was trying to supervise this man?”

In the months since Michelle’s death, Congress has becoming increasingly focused on fighting sexual assault in the military at large, with new protections passing the House this month and similar legislation currently before the Senate.

But some legislators and advocates believe that Michelle’s story reveals a problem that’s remained on the sidelines: the need to prevent sexual misconduct and assault not only against enlisted soldiers, but also young recruits before they even ship out for basic training.
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