A military jury on Thursday sentenced a Marine drill instructor to six months in the brig and gave him a bad-conduct discharge for abusing 23 recruits.
The instructor, Sgt. Jerrod M. Glass, also received a reduction in rank to private and pay forfeiture. He had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years of confinement, dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank, and forfeiture of pay and benefits.
Former colleagues lined up to hug Glass and shake his hand after the verdict was read. Glass, 25, hugged his parents.
Earlier, the prosecutors recommended he spend two years in the brig and receive a bad-conduct discharge.
"You need to send the message this is not tolerated," Marine Capt. Brent Sticker told jurors
The instructor's attorney had asked jurors to take into account Glass's previous, exemplary record and sentence him to 60 days of restricted duty and reduction to a rank of their choice.
"There's ways to deal with Sgt. Glass without throwing him out," Capt. Greg Jensen said.
"This wasn't meaningless, senseless violence," Jensen said of the alleged abuse. "It was done with the intent to assist (recruits)."
On Wednesday, Glass was found guilty of eight counts of cruelty and maltreatment, destruction of personal property, assault and violating orders on how to properly treat recruits.
He was relieved of drill instructor duty at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in February.
Parents stand by his side
Glass' mother, Barbara Glass, said, "I still believe he did not do anything he was not instructed to do ... by his superiors. If it's denied, I know it's a bald-faced lie by the Marine Corps."
Glass' father, Jerry Glass, tearfully criticized the Marines' handling of the case.
"I thought the Marine Corps stood for, 'Leave no man behind,'" he told reporters. "I think they had their head in the sand or they are not being honest with the public."
Glass was accused of ordering one recruit to jump headfirst into a trash can and then pushing him farther into the container. He is also accused of striking recruits with a tent pole and a heavy flashlight. None of the recruits was seriously injured.
Glass was one of three drill instructors charged with abusing recruits. Sgt. Robert C. Hankins and Sgt. Brian M. Wendel are facing special courts-martial on separate charges. A fourth instructor, Sgt. Joseph Villagomez, received administrative punishment.
About 17,000 recruits graduate each year from the depot. It is one of two Marine training depots nationwide; the other is in Parris Island, S.C.