Congressman Michael Turner received responses to 29 questions he transmitted to General James T. Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, on behalf of the family of murdered Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach.
Rep. Turner, who represents Vandalia, Ohio, the hometown of the Lauterbach family, has met with family members since attending the funeral of Maria Lauterbach in February.
At the request of Mary Lauterbach, the mother of LCpl Maria Lauterbach, Congressman Turner requested answers from 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 initial inquiry.
"After nearly three weeks, the Marine Corps submitted a lengthy response to the original questions I submitted on behalf of the Lauterbach family. Unfortunately, the response from General Kramlich demonstrates that the actions taken by the Marine Corps to protect LCpl Maria Lauterbach were totally inadequate," Congressman Turner said.
Congressman Turner cited several examples of what he calls “a lack of urgency in the Marine Corps response to Maria Lauterbach’s plea for help” including: The Marine Corps delay of 7 days to begin an investigation into Maria Lauterbach’s rape allegation against Cpl Laurean;
The Marine Corps acknowledged an assault on LCpl Lauterbach and vandalism to her car but took no further action to protect her from harm;
The ongoing 7 month investigation into the rape allegation which led to little action and the first formal Article 32 hearing scheduled days after Maria was murdered;
The details which went unreported to the Marine Corps chain of command at Camp Lejeune, NC regarding the disappearance of Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child for as much as three weeks.
"You get the very tragic sense that Maria Lauterbach felt alone. Her behavior between May and December should have been recognized by the Marine Corps as that of a rape victim. Today, even as we know the fate which has befallen Maria, the Marine Corps continues to defend its actions rather than examine what decisions could have prevented this tragedy. Maria Lauterbach’s case highlights the need to elevate the protection accorded to female military personnel who file claims that they have been sexually assaulted and raises serious questions about the procedures that the military has in place for responding to sexual assault claims," Rep. Turner said.
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 and her unborn child, Gabriel Joseph, were murdered and buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of the home of Cpl Laurean.