Daniel Blodgett, the Vermont National Guard member who served despite a history of criminal offenses going back more than a decade, is no longer with the Guard, its commander told a legislative committee on Thursday. Adj. Gen. Greg Knight also briefly outlined strategies he said the organization is pursuing to better track criminal allegations involving its members.
On March 24, Seven Days reported that Blodgett had maintained his Guard status despite a criminal history that included eight misdemeanor convictions. He's currently facing multiple counts of sexual assault, including of two women who served in the Guard. The military org has wrestled for years with allegations that it has tolerated sexual harassment in its ranks.
"Daniel Blodgett, who was accused of sexual assault in February, is no longer a member of the Vermont National Guard," Knight told committee members.
He did not elaborate. Knight previously said the allegations against Blodgett were "repulsive," telling attendees at a town hall meeting: “Anybody who chooses to behave in such a way, they don’t deserve to be in uniform.”
Knight on Thursday told lawmakers that he is working to set up more rigorous systems for checking his members' backgrounds, including running more background checks. Members don't always report their arrests to military authorities, Knight said, a problem seen around the country.
Knight says he's working to address what he called "a gap in the information flow between civil law enforcement and the Guard." He said he has communicated with Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling, who has approached law enforcement leaders in the state about asking people, when they are charged with a crime, whether they are Guard members.
"That, in turn, should prompt communication to our provost marshal team and then allow us to ... expeditiously address adjudication on the military side," Knight told lawmakers.
Knight has previously acknowledged that the Guard has been "deficient" in training its leaders to punish lawbreakers. He said he would better educate them how to secure punishments, including discharges.