According to this recent article, Army Master Sergeant Jim Starek‘s 15-year-old step-daughter levied accusations against him two years ago that could have put him behind bars for up to 20 years. During the final phase of a one-day trial in a civilian courtroom this week, however, a Clarksville, Tenn., jury deliberated for less than 20 minutes before finding him not guilty on four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. Case closed, right? Not so fast.
Despite being cleared by the civilian court, this Special Forces Soldier and combat veteran could still faces a military court-martial. Why? Because DoD’s War on Men (a.k.a., “sexual assault witch hunt”) is still being fought with people like U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) beating the war drums. See this piece for the latest details.
During the 20 months that have passed since the release of Three Days In August, my first nonfiction book in which I chronicle the life story and wrongful conviction of Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, I’ve been contacted by dozens of people who’ve either found themselves in the crosshairs of military prosecutors or have seen a loved one face this perverse new brand of military justice.
Through a relative, one of them — now service time in a military lockup — wrote to me recently. As has been the case so often with people who contact me, he asked for anonymity until such time as he is released from prison; therefore, I make no mentions of his name, rank or branch of service in the space below. Why? Because I’ve learned from people who know that repercussions behind bars can be hellish.
In his letter, this service member told me that, after being exonerated of sexual assault charges in a civilian court in the state where he was living, he found himself facing charges in a military court. Apparently, there is no protection against double jeopardy (i.e., being tried twice on the same charges) for members of the military.
In much the same manner as Sergeant Stewart, this combat veteran now behind bars wrote that he still stands by the values for which he proudly went to war for his country; however, he notes those values seem to have disappeared among those inside the military justice system.
“Where is the honor in trying a service member after he has already been tried in the jurisdiction of the alleged offense?” he wrote. “Where is the courage for the chain of command, judge, and appellate court to say, even though this is a sexual assault case which has become a sensitive issue, this is not right?”
“I was willing and ready to lose my life for this country,” he concluded, “but not this way.”
Word of warning to Sergeant Starek: “Don’t breathe easy just yet. The military justice system might not be finished with you yet.”