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Alleged killer avoided serious charges in isles

An ex-soldier accused of ambushing officers led a troubled life after courts-martial

By Jason Hoppin

Santa Cruz Sentinel

LAST UPDATED: 4:01 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. » Following up on comments at last week's memorial for two slain Santa Cruz police officers, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is calling for the release of the accused killer's court-martial records.

Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, was brought up on separate rape charges in Hawaii in 2006, only to see the Army drop them in exchange for a "less-than-honorable" discharge. Rather than be locked in a brig for life, Goulet continued a pattern of mayhem that ended Feb. 26 when he ambushed two detectives before being killed in a hail of gunfire.

"I think, especially in something like this, they ought to be transparent with what took place with this guy," Panetta said in an interview with the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "Something allowed him to be able to move on and continue to really threaten people's lives."

The Army has not responded to repeated requests seeking comment.

On Monday, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services committee, called for a Capitol Hill hearing on the matter.

Goulet arrived in Santa Cruz late last year, saying in a Facebook posting he was looking for a fresh start. He recently had been jailed in Ala­meda County, Calif., for peeping, after having arrived in Berkeley in 2011 from Portland, Ore., where he served two years in jail for peeping and unlawful possession of a gun.

That sentence stemmed from a 2007 incident in which Goulet fought with the boyfriend of his peeping victim. During the struggle, the boyfriend told the Sentinel, he feared for his life and bit off part of Goulet's ear in an effort to end the fight.

Goulet moved to Portland immediately after his Army discharge. His then-defense lawyer told the Sentinel that Goulet's first rape allegation occurred approximately a week after being stationed in Hawaii.

"I think we have an obligation, when something as tragic as that happens, to ask ourselves the ‘what ifs' and try to determine what went wrong here and make sure it never happens again," Panetta said. Panetta spoke Thursday at a service for Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler, saying people had "looked the other way" despite years of troubling behavior.

Panetta called the shootings "a horrific act of senseless violence."

A Portland jury acquitted Goulet of four serious felonies stemming from the peeping incident and fight, finding him guilty of two misdemeanors. Goulet was ordered to undergo sex offender treatment but was rearrested after run-ins and threats toward probation officials, and sent to jail for back-to-back yearlong sentences.

His Hawaii courts-martial, however, seem to embody ongoing criticism that military authorities are lax when it comes to sexual violence among the troops. Speier has been a critic of military handling of such cases, and as defense secretary Panetta took steps to improve the military's handling of them.

"Just as we say we leave nobody behind," Panetta said, referring to a common military motto, "We've got to be able to say we've got everybody's back."

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