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September 30, 2011

Court case a reminder to Marines not to wear full uniforms during porn shoot

Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew W. Simmons wore parts of his uniform while participating in gay porn videos. Imprudent idea. But was it illegal?

In an unusual case, to say the least, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has sided in part with Sgt. Simmons. The court this week set aside part of his guilty-plea convictions to charges of misusing the uniform. It seems wearing simply part of the official garb during a porn shoot does not, by itself, amount to misuse.

Here's the back story, according to the court's seven-page decision:

"(Simmons) was an active-duty bandsman. He took leave to appear in several commercial pornographic videos that involved sodomy with numerous other men, by his own account being paid $10,000.00 for his performances. Some of the videos included shots of him wearing his Marine dress blue coat with the Marine Corps device, decorations, and rank insignia affixed; others showed him wearing a Marine physical training jacket; and at one point he mentioned that he was a Marine. Out-takes from the videos were used to advertise the videos on a website, and one of those out-takes showed the (him) wearing the blue coat."

The porn, by itself, was not the problem. The uniform was. Sergeant Simmons, a baritone horn player, was charged with and ultimately pled guilty to violating uniform regulations, including the ban on making commercial use of the uniform.

The court concluded, among other things, that the incompleteness of what Sgt. Simmons wore and the totality of his performance could not be construed as looking like an official Marine endorsement of the porn activities. Said the court:

"We are also not satisfied, on the basis of this record, that the appellant’s statements or wear of uniform items may create an inference of service endorsement of the activities depicted. The appellant never wore a complete 'uniform,' so the general public could never receive 'visual evidence of the authority and responsibility vested in the individual by the United States Government.' He did not voice any Marine support for what he was doing or any service views on the propriety or impropriety of his conduct."

In what looks like a very significant victory for Sgt. Simmons, the court ordered a resentencing on a remaining charges, and appeared to rule out any punitive discharge.

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mike pederson

I'm sorry I just can't get over the soldier being allowed to do a porno shoot in the first place. I am a gay veteran myself, but even I draw the line at this. What a disgrace to the military.

Devildog

Depends on what he was charged with. There is certainly a case to be made for a violation of Article 134: Conduct unbecoming ... However, it appears the Govt was condident in it's charge of a uniform violation... There may be more to the story (and the charging), but without it, you can't assume that active duty participation in a porn film is "ok."

Vic Bailey

If that clown is a Marine I'm a the man in the moon. He needs drummed out of the Marines bringing shame to the uniform and the lack of morals
or pride of being a Marine when he is the scum of the earth. He needs to be wearing pink underwear in Sheriff Joe's motel! How much lower are we going to have to sink till this kind of BS is STOPPED, thanks to Bama, our morals and values are at the bottom of the scale. Bama is probably in the film with him. Stop this kind of crap! Semper Fi.

Vic Bailey

The courts are full of Bama's Socialist scum, and need fired. There were a lot of brave men died for what that uniform stood for and now ANYBODY can bring disgrase to our uniform. How much is the American people going to stand for? This kind of scum are already in our schools teaching our children that this kind of lack of morals is just fine! Wake up, People! Semper Fi.

Lcpl douchebag

ARE YOU FUC­KING SERIOUS?
How about some godda­mned discipline in my fuc­king Marine Corps?

F­ucking POG bit­ch giving us a bad name. I don't even give a sh­it that he's gay, he dishonored my fucki­ng uniform.

Let me find this motherfuc­ker. I will take the fu­cking court martial with gusto.

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mike

"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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