Linton soldier dismissed from the army for lewd offers

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 17:13 05/08/2014
Staff Sergeant Darron Wills
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ
GUILT ADMITTED: Staff Sergeant Darron Wills, at a court martial at Linton Military Camp, has pleaded guilty to three charges relating to asking female subordinates to take part in sex clips and modelling shoots.

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A Linton soldier has been dismissed from the army for trying to convince female subordinates to star in sportswear and lingerie shoots and an erotic ''tease'' tape.

Staff sergeant Darron Anthony Owen Wills, 49, a non-commissioned officer with the 1NZ Signal Regiment, today pleaded guilty to three charges of doing an act likely to prejudice service discipline at a Court Martial at Linton Military Camp.

In a case described as having circumstances so unique it was without precedent, Wills was dismissed from service by Judge Heemi Taumaunu and a panel of three military personnel following three and a half hours of deliberations.

The dismissal spelt the end of an unblemished service record of 32 years for Wills, and will come into effect at the end of the 21-day appeal period available to him.

The judge called Wills' actions so contrary to the ethos and values of the army, that his colleagues shouldn't, and couldn't be expected to continue to work with him.

Both of his victims had suffered self doubt and a decrease in self confidence following their encounter with Wills, and the woman who he had pressured to take part in the ''tease'' video had undergone counselling, the judge said.

In addition to his dismissal, Wills was ordered to pay both victims emotional harm reparation of $1000 each, and an additional $348 to the worst affected woman for costs she had incurred.

A good conduct and long service medal awarded to him will be forfeited.

Wills' charges relate to two events in July and October last year, where he contacted two women, a uniformed and civilian military personnel, by email and text message posing as fictitious alias "Paul Chalmers", a former air force member turned professional photographer.

In the messages, he asked them to take part in lucrative modelling work for a sports magazine he was contracted to.

Wills endorsed Chalmers to the women, so they would be more inclined to believe he was the real deal.

In October, he asked one woman if she would pose in sportswear and underwear, and then followed up to see if she would participate in an erotic "tease" video, wearing lingerie and a mask on a bed.

She was to speak to a camera for 7 to 11 minutes, in order to "tease" the viewer.

He described the movies in an email as short, and "arty", though he admitted this could be hard to achieve given what men wanted such clips for.

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He requested that she send him "test" shots of herself in underwear and film herself, but when she did not, he progressively upped his offer from $1000 for two hours for the video to $2300 for the video, and $700 for the photo sessions.

In July last year, he contacted another woman under the same guise, and asked her if she was interested in posing in modelling shoots for sportswear for $480, and briefs and hosiery for $550.

The hosiery photos would be shot from behind and she would be wearing a g-string, he told her.

He asked her if she would send images of herself in hosiery, taken from behind.

When the woman did send him a photo, modelling sportswear, he did not respond, and she contacted Wills to find out why.

A short time later she got an email from Chalmers advising her he was shooting a pantyhose advertisement and she would need to send him shots of herself in hosiery if she wanted to participate.

In his closing submissions, prosecutor Major Ben Bateman told Judge Heemi Taumaunu and the panel of three military representatives that Wills should be dismissed for his actions.

Wills had both a personal and professional relationship with the victims, and knew, according to a victim impact statement, that one was having financial difficulties.

"I thought that he was helping me at such a low time in my life, which made me comforted and happier, but also embarrassed and confused as to why I was telling him such personal information," she wrote.

Bateman asked them to consider how tolerable and realistic it was to have Wills continue working in the defence force.

Defence prosecutor Paul Murray suggested a stay or forfeiture of seniority, a fine and a severe reprimand.

Wills had been suffering problems with his own heath, and that of his mother, along with his fathers' death leading up to making contact with the women.

The offending was out of character and he was undergoing counselling.

Wills is a father of two, but names and details relating to his former wife and children have been suppressed.

The names, ranks, location and unit of the complainants were also suppressed.

- Manawatu Standard

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