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    Marine recruiter charged with rape of Blooming Grove girl, 16

    By Brendan Scott

    Blooming Grove ΓΆ€“ A Marine sergeant who recruited students at a dozen local high schools is facing criminal charges of repeatedly having sex with a 16-year-old Blooming Grove girl who wanted to join the Corps, police and military officials said.

    Sgt. Shedrick Hamilton, 34, of New Windsor, apparently forged a bond with the student several months ago while recruiting at Washingtonville High School, district Superintendent William Swart said.

    Hamilton has been charged with six counts of statutory rape, a felony, stemming from at least six incidents between Feb. 14 and April 10 of this year, town police said.

    Police and military officials yesterday were contacting the 11 other school districts where
    Hamilton made recruitment drives to make sure there are no other victims.

    "We do hear other people that are possibly saying it has happened in other areas," said Capt. Michael Dwyer, who oversees New York's Marine recruiting operations from Albany.

    "Our core values are honor, courage and commitment. This is obviously not in keeping with that," said Dwyer, who said the Marines are pursuing more charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    A native of Reseda, Calif., Hamilton has been a Marine for 10 years and worked as a motor transport operator in Okinawa, Japan, before becoming a recruiter, Dwyer said.

    Since being assigned to the Marine Corps office on Route 211 in the Town of Wallkill 21/2 years ago, he has recruited regularly in these districts: Eldred, Ellenville, Fallsburg, Liberty, Livingston Manor, Monticello, Pine Bush, Port Jervis, Roscoe, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley.

    As is common practice for military recruiters, the Marines regularly set up a table inside a school common area, like a cafeteria or lobby, to field questions, hand out brochures or sign up new recruits.

    In Washingtonville, district officials began investigating Hamilton's relationship with the 16-yearold student early last week, after her classmates voiced concern about it, Swart said.

    District and Marine officials believe the relationship took a more intimate turn during an off-site visit to a Marine training facility in New Windsor.

    The concerns were forwarded to the girl's parents and then to Blooming Grove police, who arrested Hamilton Friday evening. Hamilton was also charged with six misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He's being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail, pending a June 7 appearance in Town Court.

    The victim has been offered counseling through the school district, Swart said.

    State and federal law require districts to allow military recruiters on school grounds. Swart said the district likely wouldn't review its policy toward them in light of this incident.

    "We've had very good experience with all the military branches," Swart said. "I hope this one person's actions don't diminish the good work the military is trying to accomplish in high schools."

    Blooming Grove police are continuing their investigation. Anyone with information should call 496-9161

    — Brendan Scott
    Times Herald-Record


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