James Grazioplene had a long and distinguished career in the US army. When he retired in 2005, he was a major general who had served as a commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and had held senior staff positions in the Pentagon. But Grazioplene is in prison now, awaiting trial on horrific charges. Grazioplene’s daughter, Jennifer M. Elmore, says that her father raped and sexually abused her throughout her childhood.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Elmore Says the Abuse Started When She Was Three & Continued Throughout Her Childhood
Jennifer Elmore is 47 now. In a lengthy interview with the Washington Post, she said that her first memory of being abused comes from when she was three years old. She was sitting on a washing machine in her family’s basement, alone with her father. Elmore told the Post that she has a clear memory of being “terrified.” “It was just him and myself, and I can picture it. The laundry. The stairs. The stone,” she said. “I couldn’t understand what was happening, but I knew I was terrified.”
Elmore says that over the next 15 years, her family moved around from place to place, living on and off military bases. But she says the abuse continued throughout those years, and that it escalated as she got older, to the point where her father was paying her “night visits” in her bedroom. She said she didn’t tell anybody about the abuse until she had left home to go to college.
2. Elmore Reported Her Father to the Army in 2015, but the Case Was Dismissed on a Technicality
Elmore slowly began talking about her experience after she left home and started college. She told her first boyfriend, Christopher Herring. And she told her aunt, Elizabeth Powley. Then finally, in 2015, Elmore went to the army and told them that her father had raped her.
The army began a long investigation, lasting two years. Finally, the army convened a hearing and said that they had enough material to bring Grazioplene to trial. But the case never actually came to trial. A military judge dismissed the case, saying that there was a five year statute of limitations on rape cases.
3. Grazioplene’s Sister Says He Admitted to Abusing Elmore
One of the first people Jennifer Elmore spoke to about the abuse was Elizabeth Powley, her father’s younger sister. Powley confronted her brother, and she said that he confessed to her that it was true. Powley told the Post, “He said it was the worst thing he could have ever done to anybody, and that it was not happening still. To this day, I will die not knowing why my brother did this.”
Elmore’s mother, Ann Marie, also wrote a letter to Elizabeth Powley, revealing that she knew at least something about what was going on. She wrote, “Jim has . . . made an attempt at sexually molesting Jennifer,” one 1986 letter from Ann Marie Grazioplene to Powley reads. “She was sleeping, thank God, and I caught him before he got started.”
4. The State of Virginia Has Charged Grazioplene With Multiple Counts of Rape & Incest
After the army decided not to bring Grazioplene’s case to trial, Jennifer Elmore brought her case to prosecutors in Virginia. There is no statute of limitations on rape cases in Virginia. On December 7, a grand jury in Prince William County, Virginia indicted Grazioplene on multiple counts of rape and incest. The case in Virginia is centered around the year from 1988 to 1989, when Grazioplene’s family lived off-base. At the time, Grazioplene and his family lived in Woodbridge, Virginia, which is in Prince William County.
The army’s case against Grazioplene, which was never brought to trial, would have focused on the years from 1983 to 1989. According to a news release, Grazioplene would have faced a life sentence if convicted; he would also have been dismissed from the military. However, a military judge ruled that he couldn’t be prosecuted because there is a five year statute of limitations on rape cases in the military justice system.
5. Grazioplene Graduated from West Point & Joined the Army in 1972
Grazioplene retired from the army in 2005. He was a two-star general at the time of his retirement. He had served for more than 30 years, and had done stints as deputy commanding general at the Army’s armor school and as the force development director for the Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment.
Grazioplene’s younger sister, Elizabeth Powley, said that he admitted to having sexually abused his daughter, Jennifer. After Jennifer told her aunt about the abuse, Powley confronted her brother. She told the Washington Post that he had admitted to the abuse, saying, “He said it was the worst thing he could have ever done to anybody, and that it was not happening still. To this day, I will die not knowing why my brother did this.”