Today, as part of my continuing series about the Department of Defense War on Men, I compare the handling of evidence in military court-martial cases to the handling of similar evidence during the prosecution of a civilian sexual assault case making news in Ohio
ABC News broadcast a story today about the case of two Steubenville, Ohio
W.Va., high school football players who stand accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while she was drunk at an “alcohol-fueled party” the night of Aug. 11, 2012. If the report is reliable, then it appears prosecutors will rely heavily upon text messages and mobile phone photos exchanged by party attendees — and, perhaps, others — as they pursue guilty verdicts against the 16- and 17-year-old boys who stand accused.
Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, the man whose life story and wrongful conviction are chronicled in my book, Three Days In August, probably would have benefited from having members of his court-martial panel made aware of some text messages sent by his accuser. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the highly-decorated combat veteran was convicted of a handful of sexual assault-related crimes and sentenced to eight years confinement at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Several months later, however, Sergeant Stewart’s defense team had the rare opportunity to present new testimony during a post-trial hearing in Germany. During that hearing, many people testified, essentially calling out the 28-year-old German woman who had accused the Solider of raping and kidnapping her in his Stuttgart hotel room as a liar.
Did it get him a new trial? No.
Not even the testimony of Tamara Buehler, a woman who had known the accuser for more than 10 years as a friend, housemate and employer, earned him a new trial. She reported receiving a text message from the accuser within 24 hours of the night she spent with Sergeant Stewart.
In the text message, Buehler said, the accuser described a lecherous night during which she “found my master.” Of course, she took this to mean that there was sex of the sadomasochist type and noted that there was no talk of something happening that the accuser did not like. And that wasn’t all! Buehler also stated that the accuser had claimed her encounter with Sergeant Stewart was “great SEX.”
Incredibly, the military judge ignored the testimony of Buehler and several others who combined to paint a portrait of the accuser as a woman who had had sex with at least two more men between the day she met Sergeant Stewart and the start of the court-martial proceedings. Her testimony takes on additional weight when one realizes the accuser had testified during the trial that she could no longer be around men after her night with the Soldier. More details here.
Now to a more recent case — that of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair; if he receives the same treatment as Sergeant Stewart, he’s likely to receive an even longer prison sentence.
In what appears to be a smart move, however, General Sinclair’s defense team has gone on the offensive, launching a website, Sinclair Innocence, where one can read important details about the case which, for the most part, seems to be going unreported by mainstream news media outlets.
Under the tab, The Truth Behind the Case, several questions appear along with answers that tilt in favor of the accused general. Two paragraphs from the bottom of the page, links to journal entries and text messages — described as having been sent by the accuser to General Sinclair — appear to reveal much about the consensual nature of their relationship. If genuine, the documents also seem to shed much light on the mental state of the general’s accuser.
While it will be interesting to see how the case of the high school football players turns out, I will be more interested in General Sinclair’s case, hoping to see evidence of fairness and truth in the midst of DoD’s War on Men.
Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon.