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John Arthur Bennett (April 10, 1935 – April 13, 1961) was an African-American United States Army soldier who was convicted and executed for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.[1] As of 2018, he is the last person to have been executed by the U.S. military after court-martial.[2]

John Arthur Bennett
Born (1935-04-10)April 10, 1935
Virginia, U.S.
Died April 13, 1961(1961-04-13) (aged 26)
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1953–1955
Rank Private (E-1)


Bennett was born in Virginia to a family of black sharecroppers. He was epileptic, but managed to enlist in the U.S. Army when he was 18.[1] Days before Christmas 1954,[2] a heavily intoxicated Bennett left his base to find a brothel, but instead raped an 11-year-old Austrian girl[1] in a meadow and tried to drown her.[3] He was soon arrested, tried and convicted by a court-martial of First Degree Child Rape and Attempted First Degree Murder one month later and sentenced to death four times.[1] President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Bennett's death warrant.[2] Days before Bennett's scheduled execution four years later, the victim and her parents wrote to President John F. Kennedy, asking that Bennett's life be spared. Kennedy took no action on the appeals and let his predecessor's death warrant stand.[1] Bennett was hanged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1961.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Serrano, Richard A. (July 12, 1994). "Last Soldier to Die at Leavenworth Hanged in an April Storm". Los Angeles Times. p. 14. Retrieved October 1, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Reid, Tim (April 30, 2005). "Private was hanged in 1961 for raping girl". The Times. London. Retrieved May 6, 2010. Days before Christmas 1954, and very drunk, Bennett crossed a field searching for a brothel outside his army base. Instead he came to a group of private homes before finding an 11-year-old local girl, who was returning home from Christmas shopping. 
  3. ^ Serrano, Richard A. (September 10, 2000). "Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime". Los Angeles Times. 

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