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Former soldier
convicted in Winchell murder released

Former soldier
convicted in Winchell murder released

The former Army soldier convicted of conspiracy in the murder of Pfc. Barry Winchell has been released from prison after serving seven years of an original 12 1/2-year sentence. Former Army specialist Justin Fisher was linked to the 1999 beating death of Winchell at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Winchell was attacked by Calvin Glover, a former soldier based at Fort Campbell, in what was later revealed to be an antigay hate crime. An investigation by the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network found that Winchell had been the target of constant antigay harassment in the months leading up to his murder.

In response to the Winchell case, Pentagon leaders adopted a 13-point "Anti-Harassment Action Plan" meant to protect troops from such harassment. But according to SLDN there is no evidence that the plan has ever been implemented. "Seven years after the murder of Pfc. Winchell, the military has done little to protect its troops from another Justin Fisher," C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN, said in a statement. "By the Pentagon's own admission, antigay harassment is rampant throughout the forces, yet Pentagon leaders have barely lifted a finger to curb attacks on its own troops."

A 2000 Department of Defense survey found that 80% of troops had heard antigay remarks during the prior year. Thirty-seven percent said they witnessed or experienced targeted incidents of harassment.

"Army leaders gave Justin Fisher a shockingly lenient sentence in the first place, but just as importantly they have also failed, every day since, to protect other soldiers from Barry's fate," Patricia Kutteles, Winchell's mother, said in a statement. "As a mother, I never want to see Barry's story repeated. As an American, I am outraged that our leaders have taken no action to make sure it never happens again." (The Advocate)

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