Almost six months ago, news surfaced about Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, then 50, facing possible court-martial on sexual misconduct and other charges, and I promised to keep my eye on that case and others like it. Today, I share details about the general’s case and several others brought to my attention by readers of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August, which chronicles the life and wrongful conviction of Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart on sexual assault-related charges. Combined, these cases make me wonder if Department of Defense officials are waging a war on men in uniform (a.k.a., “warriors”), often under the banner of stopping sexual assaults.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, the deputy commanding general of support with the 82nd Airborne Division and Regional Command-South, speaks with Afghan media outside of a school near Forward Operating Base Howz-e-Madad in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2011. Sinclair was attending an open house, where Afghan students received backpacks full of school supplies. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amanda Hils/Released)
Though the case involving General Sinclair has yet to go to trial, one reader contacted me recently to ask if I had heard anything about the case. When I told him I had heard little beyond the fact that it was still in the pretrial stage, he suggested I visit the website, Sinclair Innocence. I took his advice and found information about the case that seems, for the most part, 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 — seem to reveal much about the consensual nature of their relationship. If genuine, the documents seem to shed much light on the accuser’s mental state.
Under the tab, Who is the Army Prosecutor?, information appears about Lt. Col. Will Helixon, the Army’s lead prosecutor in the case. Not surprisingly, the information paints the prosecutor in a less than favorable light and includes, among other things, a link to a partial transcript of General Sinclair’s Article 32 Hearing in which the prosecution admits to illegal and unethical conduct. I recommend you check it out.
Then-Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. USAF photo.
New on my radar screen is the case involving Lt. Col. James H. Wilkerson III, an Air Force fighter pilot and former 80th Fighter Squadron commander who, at 44, was charged and convicted in November 2012 of aggravated sexual assault.
On Feb. 26, his conviction was overturned by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of Third Air Force and the convening authority for his case. In turn, the well-respected colonel-select who had been serving as the 31st Fighter Wing inspector general at Aviano Air Base, Italy, was released from the brig where he had been sent to serve a one-year sentence.
When news surfaced about Colonel Wilkerson’s conviction being overturned, three liberal U.S. senators — Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) — issued a joint news release March 4, calling for General Franklin’s head on a platter.
In addition, Senator McCaskill wrote a scathing letter addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Dated March 5, the letter includes the senator’s demand that they “take the appropriate actions to restore confidence to the airmen under your authority.” It ended with the senator promising to review “whether formal legislative actions need to be taken to limit the authorities of military commanders to undo the work of military courts martial.”
In their minds, apparently, a military man is always guilty in a sexual assault case and, facts be damned, a female accuser is always innocent. Who cares if the man’s wife says he’s innocent; the sexual assault agenda must move forward!
Thankfully, according to individuals close to the case, General Franklin received approximately 100 letters of support — none of which came from the aforementioned U.S. senators — written on behalf of Colonel Wilkerson. Though I’m not at liberty to share specific details of the letters at this point, I can say that they came from two types of people — those who knew the colonel and those who knew the accuser — who sided with the accused officer.
Stay tuned as I hope to share more details of the case in the near future.
Though everyone who contacts me to tell me a loved one (i.e., husband, brother, son, uncle or friend) is innocent, I’ve refrained from sharing specifics details of most cases until verdicts are handed down and/or until appeals processes have run their course. Below, however, are tidbits from some of the cases about which I have yet to report specifics:
Sgt. Todd Knight. Family photo.
• Sergeant Todd Knight — While stationed in Germany, Army Sergeant Todd Knight befriended a young German woman while out with friends the night of Jan. 27, 2012. At some point during the evening, he and three other Soldiers — one of whom he considered a friend — accompanied the woman and one of her friends to the home where the sister of one of the women — but not the accuser — lived.
What actually happened at the home, however, remains a matter of much debate as conflicting stories were given to German authorities. Two things, however, stand without dispute: Sergeant Knight was arrested by German authorities the next day, accused of rape, and those same German authorities eventually decided not to pursue the case.
U.S. military officials, on the other hand, decided to move forward with charges of their own despite the fact that the alleged victim testified during the Article 32 hearing that she couldn’t remember what had happened that night and despite the aforementioned conflicting statements.
On Dec. 18, 2012, Sergeant Knight was found guilty of sexual assault, sentenced to one year behind bars and busted to E-1, the lowest enlisted rank and a rank he would hold until the end of his sentence when he would be dishonorably discharged from the Army.
Three months after Sergeant Knight’s conviction, people continued to show interest in proving the 25-year-old Soldier’s innocence. One who showed interest was the German woman at whose home the alleged rape occurred.
In a “To Whom It May Concern” letter dated February 28, she wrote that she has known Sergeant Knight for more than two years, and then she drops a bombshell, explaining that the sergeant’s unemployed accuser “told me SGT Knight did not rape her, and that she only said that because she didn’t want her boyfriend at that time to find out she was cheating on him.”
PFC David W. Lawrence. Army photo.
• Private First Class David W. Lawrence — Army PFC David W. Lawrence is an American Soldier from Indiana who, according to a Denver Post report May 25, 2011, pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Mullah Muhebullah, an Afghan detainee, seven months earlier. Despite the guilty plea, there are several problems with the case.
For instance, PFC Lawrence had been prescribed Zoloft and Trazadone, two powerful anti-depressant medications that have been linked to depression and suicide. In addition, members of the Army’s Sanity Board reported to the court that the Soldier had both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and schizophrenia and “was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the alleged criminal misconduct.” Looked at together, one’s left wondering what PFC Lawrence’s superiors were thinking when they put the 20-year-old Soldier in charge of the Afghan detainee.
More gut-wrenching details about the case can be found on the Facebook page, In Support of David Lawrence.
Private Taylor Crawford. Family photo.
• Private Taylor J. Crawford — Anyone who says Army Private Taylor Crawford didn’t exercise the kind of thinking required of an American Soldier would be correct. Then again, the 19-year-old security policeman wasn’t at war; instead, he was out on the town drinking with a group of people he thought were his “friends” in Germany. Bad things followed and, before long, he had been accused, tried, convicted and sentenced to five years behind bars for his alleged involvement in the beating of a German man on a city sidewalk and the theft of the man’s wallet.
There is, however, one problem with the sequence of events as spelled out by Army prosecutors: Private Crawford’s blood-alcohol level was, according to two doctors consulted by members of Crawford’s family after the trial, so high that he would not have been able to perform the actions necessary to inflict the grievous injuries suffered by the German man.
Army prosecutors apparently did not consider the Soldier’s blood-alcohol level. Instead, they pressured two of the other Soldiers involved to testify against Private Crawford and, in exchange for lenient sentencing, say he was the main culprit in the beating. Incredibly, one of the Soldiers said he couldn’t remember exactly what had happened but did recall a “vision” he had and was convinced it was based upon what happened the night of the incident.
More information about the case is available on the Facebook page, Free Taylor Crawford.
Of course, there are plenty of other cases, and more will surely follow if this “war on men in uniform” is allowed to fester within DoD. Stay tuned for updates!
CORRECTION: In the original version of this story, I noted that Lt. Col. Wilkerson had pinned on the rank of colonel (i.e., O-6). According to this report today, that was in error.
UPDATE 3/12/2013 at 7:40 p.m. Central: The insanity continues.
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.