An elite Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot at Fort Campbell, Ky., Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, 47, has flown some 1,000 combat flying hours. Nothing, however, could have prepared him for the battle he’s fighting now as he tries to avoid becoming a victim of the Pentagon’s sexual assault witch hunt that could send him to prison for 58 years* for something he did not do. Below, I share the opinions of two attorneys (who shall remain nameless) about Major Martin’s case — which involves false sexual assault allegations as well as Army prosecutors and commanders under political pressure to win a conviction at all cost — and about how the attorneys who win the small battles might win the legal war.
“I’d like to pick your brain for just a moment,” I wrote in an email two days ago to a former top legal officer for one branch of the U.S. military. “I’m working on a story involving an Army major accused of sexual assault by a woman soon after he asked her for a divorce. I don’t describe her as the major’s wife, because she is now facing bigamy charges in Kentucky.”
I went on to explain that Major Martin had learned — after asking her for a divorce — that she had never divorced her first husband before marrying him. And then I asked my question:
“If the woman is found guilty or pleads guilty to bigamy, can the Department of the Army or Department of Defense sue her or prosecute her for anything, such as obtaining goods and services under false pretenses?”
I thanked him in advance for his thoughts on the matter and, as expected, received his reply early Monday afternoon:
“The short answer is that the Army or DoD would have to request the Department of Justice pursue any sort of recovery. The DoJ would likely send it to the local U.S. Attorney wherever he resides and do an analysis of the merits and the cost/benefit to pursue it. My guess (and it is just a guess) is that the U.S. Attorney would not pursue it.”
While some might say the attorney’s reply doesn’t bode well for Major Martin, another attorney sees reason for optimism in the major’s camp. He works in the criminal division of a U.S. Attorney’s office in a major U.S. city, and he offered a different view of the same situation.
He said an Army prosecutor with knowledge of a person’s breaking the law — for instance, obtaining goods and services (i.e., healthcare services and the benefits of discounted shopping at the post commissary and exchange facilities) under false pretenses (i.e., pretending to be a military spouse when one is not legally married to a member of the military) from the federal government — not only “has the authority (to initiate prosecution), (but) he has the obligation.” Further, he said the military prosecutor would be committing “a felony on his part” if he fails to act while having such knowledge.
Do the Army prosecutors have knowledge of wrongdoing by Major Martin’s accuser? I believe they do.
They are aware Katherine (Garber) Foster, assistant prosecutor in Christian County, Ky., conducted a thorough investigation that led to a bigamy charge based upon what she believes is rock-solid evidence she can use to prove Major Martin’s accuser committed bigamy.
In addition, they are aware Christian County Family Court Judge Jason Shea Fleming voided the marriage between Major Martin and his female accuser based upon evidence she never obtained a divorce from her first husband, the father of her two youngest children.
Will the prosecutors in Major Martin’s case — Maj. Jacob D. Bashore and Capt. James P. Garrett — use their authority and fulfill their obligation to report the woman’s apparent crime (i.e., impersonation of a military spouse and, in turn, the theft of goods and services from the U.S. Government) to the U.S. Attorney in Kentucky? I certainly hope so, because doing otherwise would not be very becoming of Army officers and gentlemen.
‘CHESS PIECES’ IN PLAY
Then again, there are a lot of “chess pieces” in play right now.
For instance, if local prosecutor Foster offers Major Martin’s accuser some sort of pre-trial diversion linked to a sentence of one year or longer, she would not serve any jail time unless or until she committed another crime, such as perjury, during the term of her diversion.
As I reported yesterday, Hopkinsville, Ky., civilian defense attorney Brandi Jones is not only attempting to prevent local prosecutor Foster from prosecuting the case against her client, Major Martin’s accuser, in civilian court, but she’s hoping Christian County Judge Andrew Self will agree to her request and push back her client’s trial date until after Major Martin’s military trial, expected to run Dec. 1 to 4.
Jones knows that, if she’s successful in both preventing Foster from testifying and in delaying her client’s trial, it’s highly unlikely Judge (Col.) Andrew Glass will allow any reference to bigamy and/or perjury allegations against the woman to be aired in his military courtroom during Major Martin’s military trial. And that would not bode well for the major. If, however, Judge Self refuses to delay Jones’ client’s trial, then Major Martin might have a chance of seeing his accuser explaining herself on the witness stand during his military trial. Of course, there are no guarantees, and he’s seen his witness requests denied before.
Stay tuned for updates!
For a recap of what took place during a recent one-month period in Major Martin’s life, read “Thirty Days of Hell in the Life of an Accused Army Officer.”
For all other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.
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UPDATE 10/14/2015 at 2:17 p.m. Central: Less than two hours after publishing the article above, I received word that Major Martin’s accuser entered a guilty plea to a bigamy charge. Sentencing is set for Feb. 17. I hope the Army prosecutors are paying attention as she is now a convicted felon.
*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 8:23 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 11:12 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.