A former battalion commander at the Marine Corps basic training installation on Parris Island pleaded guilty Monday to charges related to abuse of recruits under his oversight.
The Marine Corps Times reports Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon admitted to charges of conduct unbecoming an officer, dereliction of duty and making false official statements. He will receive a reprimand and reduction in pay of $1,000 per month for five months. He will not face prison time but could lose a rank when his retirement request is considered by the Navy. Military Judge Navy Capt. Charles Purnell accepted the plea.
Kissoon was the highest-ranking officer charged in the aftermath of Recruit Raheel Siiddiqui’s 2016 suicide following what investigators called particularly egregious abuse at the hands of a drill instructor. The formal Marines report said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix repeatedly targeted Siddiqui and other Muslim recruits and even continued to slap Siddiqui after he collapsed during punishment sprints in a barracks. The report said Siddiqui ran down the squad bay to the stairwell outside and jumped over the railing. A military jury last year found Felix guilty of hitting, choking or kicking around a dozen recruits; of being drunk and disorderly and of making false statements to investigators.
“The Siddiqui family’s heartache is immeasurable, and they find no solace for a loss in one’s pay and rank to be compared with the loss of their son,” said a statement released by the family’s attorneys after the verdict. “However, the fact is, a guilty plea is a guilty plea, but it is absolutely necessary that the entirety of evidentiary truths be disclosed.”
The family sued the Marine Corps.
Investigators accused Kissoon’s of failing to remove Felix from contact with recruits despite orders from his superiors. However the Corps emphasized the charges against the battalion commander were not specifically connected to Siddiqui’s death, but for the atmosphere he maintained at the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.