Unlike most people who read reporter Nancy Montgomery‘s article published Saturday 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 chronicled in my book, Three Days In August, which chronicles the life 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 the Stripes 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 Special Forces soldier and a 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.
Next, Montgomery 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 said, 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 a middle-age woman with memory issues. I highlighted those issues in the book and in an Oct. 7, 2011, post. An excerpt from the post appears below:
During questioning six months before the trial, according to official court documents, the taxi driver 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, the taxi driver 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 her “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 wasn’t excited about speaking with Stripes again and shared a link to a story I published April 19, 2012.
Montgomery persisted, however, and wrote that her story would be about the “latest legal step, the request for reconsideration” from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Because I had written about the CAAF-level step in the appeals process Nov. 27, 2012, I decided to make an offer to the reporter.
“Shoot me all of of your questions and let me know your deadline,” I wrote, “then I’ll do my best to answer them by your deadline while allowing time for follow up.”
Rather than shoot me a list of questions, however, Montgomery informed me that she was going to review some of what Vandiver had gathered when he had talked with me a year earlier. She said she didn’t want to “duplicate some of the work he already did with you and ask questions you’ve already answered. But I am wondering how you got involved in the case. I don’t have a deadline yet.”
Montgomery was, of course, referring to a Nov. 21, 2011, phone interview I gave to Vandiver. It was followed by several email messages and resulted in three articles — #1, #2 and #3 — being published early in 2012. Unfortunately, all were published by yours truly, not Stripes.
“Nancy, I talked with John about how and why I became interested in the case,” I replied. “I also wrote a piece about it: http://threedaysinaugust.com/?p=1136.”
And that was that.
Montgomery did not forward any more questions or make any further attempts to obtain my input. In fact, her name did not appear on my radar again until today when Stripes published her report about the status of Stewart’s appeals process — a report from which she not only omitted my name and the name of my book, but failed to share critical details I had published Thursday in an update to my Nov. 27 piece, Green Beret’s Defense Attorneys Cite Ineffective Counsel During Trial, Ask Court to Reconsider:
UPDATE 12/20/2012 at 8:30 a.m. Central: Bad news received from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces: “On consideration of Appellant’s petition for reconsideration of this Court’s order issued November 15, 2012, it is, by the Court, this, 19th day of December, 2012, ORDERED: That said petition for reconsideration is hereby denied. For the Court, /s/ William A. DeCicco, Clerk of the Court.”
To read the never-before-published details about Stewart’s wrongful conviction, read the book, 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 via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.