Report: Soldier bragged about child rape

Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A U.S. soldier who raped and killed an 11-year-old girl in Albania repeatedly bragged to his comrades about assaulting girls in other countries, but no one told a commanding officer, an Army report said.

The soldiers said they kept quiet in part because Staff Sgt. Frank Ronghi threatened to kill them, The Fayetteville Observer reported, quoting Army findings on abuses by peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.

Ronghi pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and forcible sodomy of Merita Shabiu in January, while his unit was on a six-month peacekeeping duty in Kosovo. Ronghi, a weapons squad leader for the 82nd Airborne Division, is serving a life sentence without parole.

A month before Merita was killed and her body hidden in the woods, Ronghi took his squad to that spot and told them it was a good place to dump a body, the Army report said.

"Anybody could scream at the top of their lungs without anybody hearing," a sergeant said, recounting Ronghi’s words.

Soldiers told investigators that Ronghi had bragged about raping two sisters, making the older girl watch first and then forcing them to trade places. Ronghi also told a soldier he raped a 9-year-old Haitian girl, saying "this was his greatest sexual accomplishment because she was so young," the report said.

Soldiers kept quiet about the boasts, saying Ronghi liked to say, "What happens in the squad stays in the squad, or your body will never be found," the report said.

Leaders of the 82nd Airborne Division have condemned Ronghi’s crimes, saying no one could have known what he was capable of.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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