On Thursday, U.S. Navy Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty before a military judge to six counts stemming from social media posts holding military and civilian leaders to account over the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and criticizing his commanders.
The plea deal called for a maximum sentence of a letter of reprimand instead of jail, which the judge agreed to. However, there may still be action taken against his rank and benefits.
Scheller is accused of: article 88 (contempt of officials), article 89 (disrespect of superior officers), article 90 (willful disobedience to a superior officer), article 92 (failure to exercise his duties), section 92 (failure to obey order or regulation), and section 133 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman).
The charges stem from Scheller’s posting of a series of short videos and social media statements following the deaths of 13 U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan, including a marine he knew personally.
In that first video, he called the public to account for the withdrawal. He was dismissed from his command the next day and ordered to undergo a mental health assessment.
In a later article, he announced that he was resigning from his commission, only a few years away from the 20 years that would earn him a military pension. He also continued to criticize a range of civilian and military leaders, including former President Donald Trump, but then backed down on that criticism.
After his videos on the subject continued to go viral, his superiors banned him from posting on social media. After continuing to post, he was put in jail. The Marine Corps said he was in pre-trial detention awaiting a preliminary Article 32 hearing.
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