Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is an Army Ranger and master Army aviator with some 1,000 hours of combat flying time, including 500 while using night-vision gear. Though he’s been to war and back three times, fighting both on the ground and in the air, nothing prepared the 47-year-old for the battle he’s fighting now, trying to avoid becoming another victim of the Pentagon’s sexual assault witch hunt that could send him to prison for 58 years* for something he did not do.
Facing dubious sexual assault allegations, Major Martin’s case is set to go to trial
Oct. 12 Dec. 1* inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky. In addition to having his stellar military career ended, he faces the very-real possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars if found guilty.
The man chiefly responsible for the court-martial push is Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, now commander of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
At the time of his hands-on involvement in Major Martin’s case, General Stammer was a brigadier general — a “one-star” serving as acting commanding general at Fort Campbell where troops often referred to him as “Stammer the Hammer.” Like so many of his fellow graduates of “charm school,” the course where general officer selectees undergo grooming prior to their first star-studded assignments, General Stammer knew he would never get a second star if he didn’t “play ball” with his Pentagon bosses who were — and still are — under intense pressure from politically-correct politicians in Washington, D.C., demanding military leaders deliver swift and severe punishment for anyone accused of sexual assault.
As important as it is to understand what has taken place in the case already and what lies ahead, it’s equally important to understand the man at the center of this sexual assault witch hunt.
As a young man, Martin earned the rank of Eagle Scout before joining the U.S. Army Reserve a a private in 1986 and working his way up to E-5. Soon after, he worked a full-time job at night while studying during the day at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Four years later, he graduated with honors as the distinguished graduate of its ROTC program. More importantly, he received his coveted Regular Army commission as a second lieutenant and began his new life. That life included marrying his first love, Stacey, in 1991, and welcoming a daughter into their world two years later, followed by two sons. He was on the right path.
During his first three years as an officer, Martin completed Ranger School and served a stint at Fort Ord, Calif., before moving on to Fort Lewis, Wash. There, he served as a company executive officer for Raymond T. Odierno, a lieutenant colonel who would go on to earn four stars and serve as chief of staff of the Army before retiring this year. A man who wrote Martin a “top of the line” officer evaluation and made note of his “unquestionable integrity.”
In December 1993, Martin left active duty and joined the Tennessee Army National Guard. One month later, he began flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala. After graduation one year later, he began a stint with TNARNG that would last almost 11 years and involve flying OH-58, UH-60, AH-64 and AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters and serving as commander of a Cobra company and as Brigade Aviation Officer for the 278 Armored Cavalry Regiment under Max Haston, a colonel who went on to earn several promotions before being named Adjutant General for the Tennessee National Guard.
While Martin’s work with TNARNG prepared him well for his professional future, his marriage to his first wife didn’t fare as well and, as the family’s time in Tennessee neared it’s end in early 2004, they divorced amicably. Martin’s wife soon remarried and, he maintains, his relationships with her and their three children — one daughter and two sons — are very good.
A few months after the divorce, Major Martin was contacted by a woman via Yahoo! Personals, and they began a relationship. During the first year of their relationship, Martin said, the woman told him about the two men who had fathered her children. He recalled her telling him that the father of her oldest child, a boy, had been decapitated prior to his birth in a logging accident in Oregon; and he remembered her talking about having had to obtain a restraining order against the Guatemala-born father of her two girls after he allegedly sexually abused them. On top of that, he said she claimed he was still stalking them at the time.
Taking her at her word and believing her children might truly be at risk, Major Martin said he rented a U-haul and moved her and her children to a rental house he owned. In addition to allowing the four to live there for free, he provided money for food and other necessities and gave her time to adjust. At the same time, he considered ending their dating relationship but did not. Instead, the relationship continued.
Major Martin said the courtship flourished and, after a whirlwind seven-month relationship, they exchanged vows Dec. 7, 2004. At that time, he assumed much of the parental and all of the financial responsibilities for her three children — two girls and a boy, then ranging in age from 7 years to 9 months.
In July 2005, Major Martin applied to return to active duty and was approved. One month later, he and his new family began a five-year stint in Germany that included three deployments to Iraq and led to him to receive — with the help of a letter of recommendation from a three-star general — a coveted slot at the U.S. Navy War College in Newport, R.I.
After relocating his family to Rhode Island in May 2010, Major Martin completed the one-year course with honors and earned his master’s degree before moving his family back to Fort Campbell. There, his adult daughter became a member of the household. It was while he began serving in the vaunted 101st Airborne Division the proverbial “shit” began to hit the fan and he probably began to wonder if getting married on the 63rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had been such a good idea after all.
‘I WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE…’
Though warning signs had surfaced earlier in their relationship, Major Martin pointed to one milestone date — Sept. 5, 2012 — on which he decided he had had enough of what he described as “the cheating, abuse, and turmoil the woman seemed intent on dishing out” and asked her for a divorce. In response, he said she threatened him in front of his adult daughter, screaming words to the effect of “I will ruin your life if you divorce me. I will ruin your career, I can do it. I’ll tell them you’re abusive….”
Rather than wait for her to take action, Major Martin called the police, and officers who came to the home and investigated found no evidence of a physical confrontation. After that, he and his daughter left for the night.
The next day, Major Martin said, the woman responded by seeking an emergency protection order from a local judge. As a result of the EPO being issued automatically and temporarily until a hearing could take place, he and his adult daughter were forced to vacate the home for several weeks. While they were away, the woman and a male neighbor with whom she was close ransacked the home and destroyed its contents, including many irreplaceable items.
Two weeks later at a family court hearing about validating the EPO, the extension was denied after questions arose regarding the truthfulness of statements made by the woman and her children.
Two months into the drama, Major Martin said, his lawyer found evidence the woman he was trying to divorce had never legally been divorced from the father of her two youngest children. He reported her bigamy to Army agencies, but no action was taken.
Soon after she learned about the lawyer’s findings during divorce negotiations, she and the aforementioned male neighbor went to the FBI with an outlandish claim that Major Martin was an international spy and proceeded to hand over an inoperable $60 laptop computer and several compact discs allegedly containing classified information as “evidence” of his alleged illicit activities. Though their statements about the time and the place they supposedly found these items did not match, FBI officials still alerted the Army about the claims. Soon after, Army counter-intelligence officials began an extensive investigation that included surveillance and wiretapping as well as an extensive search of his off-post home and interrogation sessions that included a lengthy polygraph exam.
Major Martin said he knew he was innocent. He knew he had never visited or had contact with anyone at the Maryland-based military intelligence unit to which the computer had belonged, and he had been assigned to Germany during the entire period the laptop in question was in the Army inventory. On top of that, he had never mishandled classified materials — more less, taken such materials home with him.
While under investigation, Major Martin said he was not only blacklisted by the Army and ordered to undergo domestic violence counseling for one year — a career killer for an officer, but he was also reassigned by General Stammer — and later fired from the coveted aviation officer position with his unit. He also lost the chance to deploy to Afghanistan with his unit and, afterward, to attend British Advanced Command and Staff College. While checking on the status of the latter, he learned his personnel file had been “flagged” and took his concerns about that action to the Army Inspector General. His career hung in limbo for two years.
In the end, the Army counter-intelligence investigators cleared Major Martin of any wrongdoing connected to the allegedly-stolen items, including the laptop that had been out of the Army inventory for seven years. But the damage had already been done. And more would follow.
After learning about the aforementioned “flag” on his personnel file, Major Martin said members of his family — including his father, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, and his sister, a retired Air Force nurse — contacted General Stammer and warned him they would “go public” about the “irregularities” in the case. Soon after, the general ordered Military Police Investigations to launch a new investigation and tried to give the major an Article 15 — another career killer for an officer.
When Major Martin tried to request an unbiased adjudicating authority, he said Army prosecutors blocked his meeting with the division commander and began trying to dig up new reasons to charge him and force a court-martial, ignoring the fact he had already been cleared by military and civilian investigatory agencies.
On June 18, 2014, Major Martin learned he was facing 13 new charges which seemed to be a product of Army prosecutors working with his accuser to find something — anything — with which to charge him. This time, he said, the angry woman in his life alleged he had sexually abused the woman and her three children on diverse occasions between 2007 and 2012. Interestingly, he said he learned later that the allegations were almost identical to ones she had made against the father of her two girls ten years earlier. Those allegations were never prosecuted because, according to Martin, the local prosecutor had been unable to locate the woman’s husband.
Major Martin denied all of the charges against him and was, at one point, willing to resign his Regular commission simply to bring the matter to an end and not stress his family, including his elderly parents, any more. His offer did not, however, mean he was guilty. Instead, he simply wanted to avoid the possibility of being found guilty by the severely-flawed Army criminal justice system — the same one that’s under pressure to punish individuals for even being the target of allegation — and being sentenced to 58 years in prison. General Stammer, however, recommended he not be allowed to resign. In doing so, he opted to ignore two key findings:
• First, he ignored the findings of the investigating officer who, because he was aware investigators with the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services had issued a finding almost 18 months earlier that all allegations of child abuse and/or neglect against Major Martin were unsubstantiated, recommended no action be taken against Major Martin; and
• Second, he ignored similar advice from LTC Robert Insani, his top legal advisor as the staff judge advocate at Fort Campbell.
General Stammer, it seems, was simply unwilling to risk his chance for promotion over the fate of a mere field-grade officer. The prosecution of Major Martin would continue!
On July 15, 2014, the prosecutor for the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Christian County, Ky., announced news that should have weighed heavily on General Stammer’s decision to move toward a court-martial date. She had been charged with one count of felony bigamy. Four days later, she was arrested, taken to the county jail and released on $5,000 bond until her trial begins Oct. 22, less than two weeks after Major Martin’s court-martial is set to begin.
Six months later, a grand jury in Coffee County, Tenn., indicted her for the same thing. She has not, however, been tried. Beyond those charges, I’m told she could face additional federal charges for defrauding TRICARE, the military healthcare system, for eight years while posing as Major Martin’s spouse.
Of course, there are many more sordid details in this case, but I think I’ve given enough to show Major Martin is on his way to becoming a victim of a kangaroo court-martial if someone in power — be it General Stammer or Brig. Gen. John E. Novalis II, the new commanding general who assumed command at Fort Campbell Aug. 17 — doesn’t step up and take action.
To show people in charge of this kangaroo court-martial effort how you feel about the case against Major Martin, contact your elected officials as well as the officials listed below and let them know the prosecution of this Soldier, who’s already been cleared of wrongdoing by multiple investigations, needs to end immediately!
Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky
c/o 101st Airborne Division
Bldg. 2700, Indiana Avenue
Fort Campbell, KY 42223
Mr. Jon T. Rymer
U. S. Department of Defense
4800 Mark Center Drive
Alexandria, VA 22350-1500
John M. McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
General Mark A. Milley
Chief of Staff, United States Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Senator Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Bob Corker
425 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
NOTE: Contact information for officials listed above has been updated since first publication.
Please share this news and stay tuned for updates about this case as it moves forward!
UPDATE: The trial date was moved back to Dec. 1. More details at here.
*UPDATE: After publishing this article, I learned Army prosecutors agreed to limit any possible punishment in this case to 10 years. A sign they have a weak case?”
UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:31 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.
UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:20 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.