Chaplain Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

By Stephen Graham
Associated Press, carried in Army Times [Germany]
November 1, 2005

BAMBERG, Germany — An Army chaplain was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty at his court-martial to three counts of forcible sodomy against enlisted men.

Capt. Gregory Arflack, 44, a Roman Catholic priest serving as a chaplain with the 279th Base Support Battalion, also admitted three counts of committing an indecent acts, two of fraternization with enlisted service members, and one count of conduct unbecoming an officer.

Col. R. Peter Masterton, the military judge ordered him dishonorably discharged from the Army in addition to the prison term to be served at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Arflack showed no emotion as the sentence was read out.

Under the pretrial agreement which saw Arflack plead guilty, a charge of indecent assault and two counts of disobeying orders were dropped. The sentence will be reviewed by Arflack's commanding general and by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors had sought eight to 10 years' confinement and dismissal, while defense lawyers asked for an unspecified lesser sentence on the grounds that he suffered from a psychological disorder that impaired his judgment.

Arflack, a native of Marion, Ky., told the court he regretted his actions.

"I failed as an officer, I failed as a chaplain, I failed as a leader," he said as he pleaded guilty.

The assaults involving Army personnel took place in the Bavarian city of Bamberg on July 29-30 of this year, while one incident involving fraternization with three enlisted Marines took place in Doha, Qatar, on June 21, 2004.

Arflack said most of the alleged offenses took place after a drinking spree in Bamberg on July 29. He confessed to plying the three soldiers — ages 18, 19 and 20 — with alcohol and making unwanted advances. He forced oral sex with one soldier in the bathroom of a bar and later with the other two at his home, where they had passed out on his sofa.

"I apologize to the soldiers, my heart hurts for them," he said. "I can't explain what the chaplaincy means to me and I messed it up."

"I've had a lot of time to pray and consider what I've done as a priest and an officer and I'm ashamed," he added, sobbing audibly.

The court martial took place in Bamberg, where Arflack's unit is based.

Arflack works under the jurisdiction of the Owensboro, Kentucky, diocese, where he served his first two assignments as a priest in Paducah and Bowling Green from 1998 to 2002.

Like all Roman Catholic chaplains, he is considered to be on loan to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, which serves Catholics in the military, government service and Veterans Administration hospitals. Both dioceses have suspended Arflack.

The Kentucky diocese has said it would not look into Arflack's behavior until after the military completed its investigation. Bishop John McRaith, who has headed the diocese since 1982, recommended Arflack for his military chaplaincy.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.