Unlike most people who read reporter Nancy Montgomery‘s article two years ago this week in Stars and Stripes, I noticed something terribly wrong in some of the comments attributed to German police detective Daniel Lorch. His words conflicted with the real-life events in my book, Three Days In August, which chronicles the story of former Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart and the military justice debacle that ended his stellar career as a Green Beret and landed him behind bars at Fort Leavenworth.
About halfway into her article, Montgomery shared comments made by Detective Lorch about his experience as an investigator and his personal opinion “that (Stewart) was guilty” of a variety of sexual assault-related charges stemming from a one-night stand involving the highly-decorated combat veteran and a then-28-year-old German woman. The reporter did not, however, include any comments by the detective about the complete lack of physical evidence and eyewitnesses to the alleged crimes.
Montgomery also attributed a statement to the detective about a taxi driver being among the people (plural) who had allegedly seen Stewart’s accuser the morning she left his hotel and later provided corroborating trial testimony. Apparently, the reporter did not ask the detective for details about those people. Nor did she ask about their testimony during the trial. Why? Because, contrary to what the detective must have told her, only the taxi driver testified as a witness during the trail. Additional witnesses to her departure from the hotel could not be found.
Finally, Montgomery quoted Detective Lorch on the matter of what the taxi driver allegedly saw when she picked up the accuser outside Stewart’s hotel:
“He described, very detailed, very clearly, her physical damage,” Lorch said. “He was sure something very bad had happened to this woman.”
The detective repeatedly referred to the taxi driver in the masculine sense when, in reality, the taxi driver was Monika Haug, a middle-age woman with memory issues. I highlighted those issues in the book and, more recently, in a post from which the excerpt below appears:
During questioning six months before the trial, according to official documents, Haug told German police officials, “I’m sorry I don’t see her in front of my eyes anymore right now,” later adding, “I believe she had blonde dyed hair. I don’t remember her clothing or age right now anymore.”
During the trial one year after she had allegedly picked up Stewart’s 28-year-old accuser in front of the Stuttgart-Marriott Hotel in Sindelfingen, Germany, Haug was able to remember accurate details about Stewart’s accuser (i.e., that she was wearing knee-high boots, had long black hair, etc.) that she wasn’t able to remember when it should have been fresh on her mind. A miracle perhaps or was it coaching by prosecutors that helped Haug “improve” her memory?
Montgomery’s article came 24 days after she had contacted me via email, informing me that she was interested in doing a story about the latest development in the Stewart case, had read my website and wanted to talk.
In a written reply to Montgomery, I told her I had spent a lot of time one year earlier with John Vandiver, a Stuttgart-based Stripes reporter, and that the effort — via phone and email — had yielded not a single story. Furthermore, I told her, I cited my experience with Vandiver — several emails back and forth plus phone interviews, but no stories — when telling her I wasn’t excited about speaking with Stripes.
Apparently, Montgomery spoke with Vandiver and made no further attempts to obtain my input. In fact, her name did not appear on my radar again until Stripes published her report about the status of Stewart’s appeals process minus any mention of my name and the name of my book and, more importantly, without several critical details about the case.
If you’re interested in the details of how the military justice system railroaded an elite Special Forces Soldier, read Three Days In August. Based on 18 months of research, interviews with the key players and access to the actual Record of Trial, this book is available in paperback and ebook versions here.
UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:15 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.
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