Army Didn’t Search for AWOL Suspected Rapist; Police Later Found Him Raping a Teenage Girl

Jameson Hazelbower.
Jameson Hazelbower. Photo: Winnebago County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office

Army Private Jameson T. Hazelbower, who was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, went missing when he learned of the charges in January 2014. The AP reports that even though he posed a threat to the public, the Army did not actively search for him. He was located three months later in Winnebago, Illinois — and that’s only because police found him by chance, in a car with a girl who was barely 14, his pants down to his ankles.

Why didn’t the Army search for someone who, according to the military’s arrest warrant, is a “sexually violent predator”? While the Army declined to comment, the AP says that Hazelbower’s case “is a window into an obscure but significant aspect of the U.S. military’s legal system.”

This was not the first time Hazelbower has been in trouble with the law. In 2009, Hazelbower — who describes himself as a sex addict — was accused of stalking the girl he was dating at the time. Her parents “secured an emergency order of protection to keep Hazelbower away from their daughter,” according to the AP.

A judge dismissed the order three months later.

In May 2015, Hazelbower was convicted of “child rape, possession of child pornography, sexual abuse of a child, desertion and other charges” and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Hazelbower handwrote a note to the judge, begging for a shorter sentence. He said after he joined the Army, he struggled with sex addiction, alcoholism, and depression. When he tried to seek help, Hazelbower claims the Army ignored him. “I was literally laughed at,” he wrote.

Army Did Not Search for AWOL Suspected Rapist