A female sergeant first class who allegedly threatened a Soldier with a pistol, touched another inappropriately and insulted an NCO was acquitted of all charges during a Wednesday court-martial.
SFC Jessica Barboza of the 2nd NATO Signal Battalion was found not guilty of dereliction of duty, maltreatment and disrespecting an NCO by a panel of nine male officers and senior NCOs.
“I’m relieved,” said Barboza from her duty station in Italy. “I’m just grateful to the jury members.”
Barboza was stacked with several accusations, ranging from calling black female Soldiers “negritas” to pointing a pistol at another Soldier during weapons training. In addition, Barboza allegedly touched a black NCO’s hair without consent and referred to it as “nasty.”
Barboza admitted to touching the soldiers hair, claiming that she thought “there was a piece of paper” stuck in it. Furthermore, she claimed that she did use the term “negrita,” but in an neutral to affectionate way she had become accustomed to in her native Southern California.
When asked why a Staff Sergeant would have accused her of pointing a weapon at him, she said that it was likely “out of spite.”
According to Military.com, Barboza claims she has learned from the incident, and will try to be less “gung-ho.”
“This was a learning experience,” she said. “My gung-ho-ness…I’ve always been like that. But this has taught me to be more sensitive.”
The NCO reportedly turned down nonjudicial punishment and took a chance on a worse outcome at court-martial due to the career-damaging nature of the NJP.
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