Fort Bragg warrant officer facing court martial over deaths of two adopted toddlers

Fort Bragg, North Carolina: Warrant Officer 1 Anthony S. Rivera was arraigned on murder charges at Fort Bragg on August 18 of this year relating to the deaths of two toddlers he and his wife had adopted in 2017. Within nine months of that adoption both children were dead.


Army Times reports that an unnamed source stated that Harnett County Sheriff's Office had initially taken the lead in the case but when county prosecutors ultimately declined to pursue charges, that right returned to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in early 2020.


Citing the charge sheet, Rivera and his wife adopted two children, ages 2 and 3 in April 2017. The first child died November 18, 2017 and the second died on January 14, 2018. Both are said to have died from blunt force trauma and to have had "similar" spinal injuries.


Rivera is also charged with failing to obtain medical care for the first child according to the charging sheet which additionally states that both deaths took place at their residence in Cameron, North Carolina.


Two years after the deaths of the children, Rivera allegedly sexually assaulted a woman he had previously had a relationship with. The same month that the Army charged him with the murders of the children, she reported him for a coercive sexual encounter.


Army Times explains that that UCMJ considers it sexual assault when a servicemember uses coercion or blackmail to obtain consent to sexual activity.


No charges have been filed at this time related to the sexual assault though Lt. Col. Brett Lea, chief of public affairs for the 82nd Airborne said that the possibility of Rivera being court-martialed for the assault has not been ruled out.


"A final determination regarding alleged additional misconduct related to this case [has] not been made. However, all allegations of wrongdoing in the Division are treated seriously and are addressed accordingly." In speaking with Army Times though, he made sure to reiterate that "charges are merely accusations and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty."


Rivera has not been incarcerated, either by civilian or military authorities to date, but this decision evidently falls in line with normal practices.


"[I]n general, the determination to assign pretrial confinement under the rules for courts-martial is largely based on a Soldier's likelihood to fail to appear at trial," Lea explained. "Our commanders consistently examine whether pretrial confinement is warranted in any situation."


Division commander for the 82nd Airborne, Major General Christopher Donahue has the right to order pretrial confinement or other restrictions as he sees fit though Rivera does have the right to appeal those decisions.