FORT CARSON, Colo., April 30 (UPI) -- A female U.S. Army private who moved to Canada to avoid returning to Iraq pleaded guilty to desertion Monday and was sentenced to 10 months confinement.
Pfc. Kimberly Rivera, 30, will also receive a bad conduct discharge from the Army, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette reported. She is the first woman to have gone to Canada to avoid Iraq service.
Rivera's court-martial was to begin Monday. Instead, it became a sentencing hearing.
Rivera, who served with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Carson in Colorado, was deployed to Iraq in 2006, where she served as a front gate guard at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in Baghdad. In early 2007, she was granted leave because of marital problems and never returned to Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Amelia Nelson, who served with Rivera in Iraq, testified at the hearing. She said soldiers in Iraq discovered Rivera was blogging from Canada.
Nelson suggested Rivera exaggerated what she had seen in Iraq, quoting her as saying that "wounded, injured and killed civilians on a daily basis was normal," but Rivera would not have seen such horrors at the front gate.
Rivera's lawyer argued a chaplain should have explained the option of declaring herself a conscientious objector.
When Canada began taking steps to deport her, Rivera surrendered to the military at the border in September. She is pregnant with her fifth child.