Victim’s Mother and Ohio Congressman Call for Answers at Press Conference
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Michael Turner (OH-03) today called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to begin an investigation into the handling of the rape and murder case of Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. Rep. Turner, who represents Vandalia, Ohio, the hometown of the Lauterbach family, has met with representatives of the family since attending the funeral of Maria Lauterbach in February. This week, he hosted meetings for Mary Lauterbach, the mother of Maria Lauterbach, in Washington, D.C. with 19 Members of Congress to discuss the Lauterbach case and ways to protect women serving in the military.
“Since Maria first disappeared in December of last year, our nation grieved with the Lauterbach family over the death of Maria and her unborn child. Unfortunately, as additional details of the rape investigation have become public, it is now clear that the Marine Corps should have done more to protect Maria and her unborn child,” said Rep. Michael Turner.
On May 11, 2007, Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach filed a claim that fellow Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean had sexually assaulted her on the base of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. On or about December 14, 2007, LCpl Maria Lauterbach was murdered and was buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of the home of Cpl Laurean. On March 11, 2008, at the request of the Lauterbach family, Congressman Turner submitted 29 questions to General James T. Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, about the handling of the murder and rape investigation by Marine officials. In a letter dated March 31, 2008, Lieutenant General R. S. Kramlich, Director of Marine Corps Staff, submitted responses to Congressman Turner’s letter.
“Maria Lauterbach’s story can be described as nothing less than a tragedy. For eight months, Maria felt alone in her struggle. Today, knowing the fate which has befallen Maria, the Marine Corps continues to defend its actions rather than examine what decisions could have prevented this tragedy. It has become clear that a thorough self-analysis by the Marine Corps is now beyond their ability or intentions and will require an investigation from the Department of Defense,” said Congressman Turner.
Today, Congressman Turner sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling for a Defense Department investigation of the handling of the rape and murder investigation by Marine Corps officials. In his letter, Rep. Turner cited several examples of errors in judgment by the chain of command at Camp Lejeune, NC and within the Marine Corps as a whole including:
- The Marine Corps repeatedly stating that there was “never any alleged violence or threat of violence in either sexual encounter.”
- The Marine Corps allowing the Military Protective Order (MPO) to lapse for a 2-week period between December 24th and January 7th over the holidays before reissuing a renewed MPO.
- The Marine Corps not advising LCpl Lauterbach to seek a civil protective order.
- The Marine Corps delaying 7 days before NCIS interviewed Cpl Laurean regarding the rape allegations made by LCpl Lauterbach.
- The Marine Corps chain of command remaining uninformed of the discovery of several crucial investigatory items regarding the disappearance of Maria Lauterbach for as much as three weeks such as:
o The discovery of LCpl Lauterbach’s cell phone, ATM withdrawals, the discovery of her car, the bus ticket purchase.
- The Marine Corps not requesting a DNA sample from Cpl Laurean at any time.
- Marine Commanders referred to Laurean as a “stellar” Marine and Lauterbach as a “solid” Marine four days after LCpl Lauterbach was found buried in the backyard of Cpl Laurean.
- The Marine Corps not offering LCpl Lauterbach reassignment to another base after either the rape, the vandalizing of her car, or being punched in the face on base.
- The Marine Corps never issuing a formal “gag order” for Cpl Laurean or LCpl Lauterbach.