Tag Archives: Army Ranger

Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct, Breach in Controversial Sexual Assault Case Against Army Officer at Fort Campbell

Days after publishing a brief article about the hearing that took place Monday and Tuesday inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky. I’m able to share more details about what took place as a military judge heard from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have tainted the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. This is Part Three of a three-part series.

Army Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo.

Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo that his sister included in a letter to the general who ordered his court-martial.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

The Article 39A hearing, essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present, began at 8 a.m. with attorneys on both sides meeting alone with Col. Andrew Glass, the military judge.

Ninety minutes later, attorneys began making arguments about potential evidence to be presented and potential witnesses to be called during the upcoming trial. More than four hours of banter and discussion followed until 2 p.m. when the opposing parties took a one-hour break for lunch. After returning to the courtroom, four hours of testimony began. It continued for more than five hours the following day.

In the space below, I share details of the hearing based, in part, upon reports obtained from hearing attendees, none of whom happen to represent the prosecution which, to date, has opted to remain silent about the case.

BREACH OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE?

During the hearing’s second day, Maj. Jenny S. Whyte-Schlack testified she had spoken with Major Martin during a face-to-face meeting in November 2013 and, soon after, had written a memo containing details of the 10-minute meeting and shared it with members of the prosecution staff. In addition, however, she testified that she had not read Major Martin his Booker Rights, a statement read to individuals facing the possibility of nonjudicial punishment. Major Whyte-Schlack’s admissions are significant in light of the fact that Major Martin filed a grievance against her April 15, 2015.

In his grievance, Major Martin explained that he believed Major Whyte-Schlack was not working as a prosecutor at the time they met and that she said nothing to make him think otherwise during the meeting. Further, he claimed that her actions to inform members of the prosecution staff about their conversation constitute a breach of attorney-client privilege.

WITNESS SAYS SHE OVERHEARD PROSECUTORS

Another Army attorney called to testify during the second day of the hearing was Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor in Major Martin’s case.

I’m told by a witness to the hearing that Colonel Glass warned Captain Garrett to only answer the questions and to not embellish his answers to questions offered by Major Martin’s counsel, Tucker Richardson III.

Often-heated exchanges between Captain Garrett and Richardson centered on what took place when the prosecutor offered Major Martin a choice between two less-than-appealing options during a meeting in March 2014.

Captain Garrett said he was not familiar with Article 15 procedures when he met with Major Martin soon after the major had left the office of Col. Michael Minor, where Part 1 of Article 15 specifications were read to him by the acting rear division commander. Still, the captain admitted, he had taken it upon himself to meet with Major Martin — without his attorney present — and offer him the choice between accepting the Article 15 — a form of non-judicial punishment that’s deadly to the career of any military officer who accepts it — or, as an alternative, facing a court-martial.

Captain Garrett was also asked about an email message he’d sent to Major Martin’s legal counsel March 26, 2014. In it, he had used words to the effect of “if Major Martin wanted to meet with the commanding general about his Article 15, then he would have to plead guilty first and, if he didn’t, then I would advise further charges could be added. When he did not deny sending the email, Captain Garrett essentially confirmed that he had sent it as a threat aimed at Major Martin (i.e., “Plead guilty to an Article 15 or we’ll find more dirt and prosecute you on more charges”). Apparently, Captain Garrett knew elevating the case to court-martial level would render as inadmissible the results of a polygraph exam Major Martin passed during an earlier investigation.

Captain Garrett was also asked how Major Martin’s Article 15 charge morphed into an Army Criminal Investigation Division investigation on the same day the major tried to meet with the commanding general and request an impartial adjudicating authority. This later escalated into 13 new charges, including rape, sexual assault and child abuse, against the major.

The captain responded by saying he contacted the accuser in April 2014 and then spoke with her neighbor, a man whom the defense described as “her lover,” and learned about several instances of alleged abuse. The allegations were followed by a new CID investigation.

Finally, Captain Garrett was asked if had had a discussion with Maj. Jacob D. Bashore, the special victims prosecutor who was the subject of my Aug. 27 article, Army Lawyer Surfaces in New Bogus Prosecution Effort, about Major Martin’s accuser the previous day while both were in the waiting room outside the courtroom. Specifically, he was asked if he had described the accuser as “totally un-credible” and if he had told Major Bashore that “(the prosecution) was only using her accusations as a threat and could drop them later.”

After Captain Garrett vehemently denied having spoken such words, Richardson
called Major Martin’s friend, Laura Spencer, to the stand.

A nursing instructor at a local university, Spencer testified that, one day earlier, she had been asked by the bailiff to wait in a side room. While waiting in that room, she said she overhead Captain Garrett tell Major Bashore the accuser “was totally un-credible as a witness, and that they were using her charges as a threat to Major Martin, and could drop them later.”  She said she also heard Major Bashore agree and that she heard Captain Garrett also say that they “could drop the charges later.”

Not surprisingly, the Army prosecutors denied such a conversation ever took place when asked about the alleged exchange on the witness stand.

To read other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

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Local Prosecutor Says Fort Campbell Counterparts Tried to Pressure Her to Drop Charge Against Army Officer’s Accuser

Days after publishing a brief article about the hearing that took place Monday and Tuesday inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky., I’m able to share more details about what took place as a military judge heard from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have tainted the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. This is Part Two of a three-part series.

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

The Article 39A hearing, essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present, began at 8 a.m. with attorneys on both sides meeting alone with Col. Andrew Glass, the military judge.

Ninety minutes later, attorneys began making arguments about potential evidence to be presented and potential witnesses to be called during the upcoming trial. More than four hours of banter and discussion followed until 2 p.m. when the opposing parties took a one-hour break for lunch. After returning to the courtroom, four hours of testimony began.

In the space below, I share details of the hearing based, in part, upon reports obtained from hearing attendees, none of whom happen to represent the prosecution which, to date, has opted to remain silent about the case.

LOCAL CIVILIAN PROSECUTOR TESTIFIES

In addition to the testimony highlighted in Part One of this series, more damning testimony surfaced when defense attorney Katherine Demps questioned Katherine (Garber) Foster, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Attorney for Christian County (a.k.a., “the local civilian prosecutor”).

Foster testified Tuesday afternoon that she had been contacted in October and November 2014 by two of the Army attorneys involved in prosecuting Major Martin: Maj. Jacob D. Bashore, the special victims prosecutor who was the subject of my Aug. 27 article, Army Lawyer Surfaces in New Bogus Prosecution Effort; and Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor.

Foster also told the court she had felt pressured by both officers to drop her bigamy case against Major Martin’s accuser who, it turns out, appears to have never gotten a divorce from the father of her two youngest children before she married the major.

Regarding Major Bashore, specifically, Foster testified that he had contacted her repeatedly by email and phone.

One example of Major Bashore’s pressure can be found in the wording of an email exchange between Foster and the SVP, a copy of which I obtained. The exchange began with Foster contacting Major Bashore about an Army-related “bigamy and fraud question.” The words of her initial inquiry, stamped Oct. 7, 2014, at 4:19 p.m., appear below with the name of the accuser redacted and only minor formatting modifications:

“Major Bashore, I hope all is well at Fort Campbell! I have a rather interesting case, the victim being a soldier, Major Chris Martin, and his ex-wife, who is charged with bigamy. I am aware that he is under investigation by the military for claims of sexual assault by the ex-wife. Long, long, long story short, I was wondering if the military would ever prosecute the ex-wife for fraud since she obtained military benefits as a spouse while actually being married to another man. Thoughts?”

Barely 24 hours later (Oct. 8, 2014, at 5:04 p.m.), Major Bashore replied as follows:

“Hey, sorry for the delay. Been in trial the last two days. MAJ Martin is being court-martialed for the sexual abuse of his children, for assaulting his children and his former wife, and for some purely military offenses. MAJ Martin seems to be making a cottage industry for himself on being a ‘victim.’ But, no, we couldn’t prosecute the wife even if we wanted to as the military does not have jurisdiction over civilians.”

He closed his email with a telling question:

“Are y’all really going after her?”

Appearing to hold no punches while maintaining her demeanor, Foster replied the following day at 9:13 a.m:

“Yes, sir. Right now she has bigamy charges, and we are also looking to indict her on Tampering with a Witness stemming from her hearing in Family Court in 2012. Although I have only met with (Major Martin’s accuser) in the past and had not spoken with Major Martin until this week, I’ve been aware of their issues for the past two years, and I honestly find her behavior concerning. Major Martin’s attorney has been unsuccessful in finding any certificate for divorce on file in the four different counties in which (Major Martin’s accuser) has alleged that her divorce may have been granted. Additionally, (Major Martin’s accuser) and her attorney have not been able to produce any documents pertaining to a divorce despite repeated requests from Major Martin’s attorney. Judge Fleming annulled the marriage on June 11, 2014, and a finding of fact in that action is that (Major Martin’s accuser) was still married to (name of first husband of Major Martin’s accuser) when she married Major Martin.”

Regarding Captain Garrett, Foster testified she felt he had been “intense” with her and said she was insulted by his demeanor. In addition, she told the court she had spent 45 minutes telling Captain Garrett she had personally witnessed the Sept. 18, 2012, hearing during which Major Martin’s “wife” attempted to obtain an Emergency Protective Order against Major Martin. She told the court she concluded that Major Martin’s accuser was untruthful and had committed witness tampering with her children.

Apparently, Army prosecutors don’t like the local civilian prosecutor’s plan to prosecute Major Martin’s accuser because it weakens their case against the Regular Army officer.

On the second day of the hearing, Captain Garrett was asked why he had contacted Foster and why he should not be held in account for an apparent Brady Violation for waiting 60 days to inform the defense of his communication with Foster.

Worth noting: Major Martin’s attorneys have filed disciplinary complaints against Major Bashore and Captain Garrett in the states of Tennessee and Texas where they are, respectively, licensed to practice law. Also worth noting is the fact that Foster’s testimony seems to dovetail with the information I shared in my aforementioned Sept. 4 article, including news about the arrest of Major Martin’s accuser, her release on $5,000 bond and an Oct. 22 trial date being set for her case.

The local civilian prosecutor wasn’t the only person to testify about having an uncomfortable conversation with Army prosecutors. Two Army officers at Fort Campbell testified about the advice they received from the legal officers.

Maj. Lance Fountain, acting commander of the unit to which Major Martin was assigned, testified that Captain Garrett had advised him to not allow the accused officer to take leave (a.k.a., “earned vacation time”) so that he could meet with his defense attorneys two weeks prior to his first court-martial-related hearing in April 2015. Soon after Major Fountain testified, an audio recording of a conversation between the two majors was played in the courtroom for all to hear. The subject: Captain Garrett and the prosecution team’s efforts to block Major Martin from taking leave since June 2014. According to courtroom insiders, it clearly shows prosecutorial misconduct.

Another officer, Lt. Col. Nickolaus Guran, testified that he, too, had refused to approve some of Major Martin’s leave requests based upon advice from Army prosecutors. In addition, he testified that the major had not received initial written counseling and had not been assigned a duty position until six months after he had been assigned to his battalion.

To read other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Officer’s Accuser Described as ‘Untruthful Since Childhood’

Days after publishing a brief article about the hearing that took place Monday and Tuesday inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky., I’m able to share more details about what took place as a military judge heard from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have tainted the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. This is Part One of a three-part series.

This graphic tells Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin's story in a nutshell. If justice doesn't prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

This graphic tells Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin’s story in a nutshell. If justice doesn’t prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

The Hearing

The Article 39A hearing, essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present, began at 8 a.m. with attorneys on both sides meeting alone with Col. Andrew Glass, the military judge.

Ninety minutes later, attorneys began making arguments about potential evidence to be presented and potential witnesses to be called during the upcoming trial. More than four hours of banter and discussion followed until 2 p.m. when the opposing parties took a one-hour break for lunch. After returning to the courtroom, four hours of testimony began.

In the space below, I share details of the hearing based, in part, upon reports obtained from hearing attendees, none of whom happen to represent the prosecution which, to date, has opted to remain silent about the case.

ACCUSER’S SISTER TESTIFIES

The first witness called Tuesday afternoon was an older sister of Major Martin’s accuser. She was patched into the courtroom by phone from her California home.

During her time on the virtual witness stand, she began by telling the court she did not want to testify and had no opinion as to her sister’s credibility.  In addition, she testified she had not seen her 40-something sister much since leaving home many years earlier but had visited her in 2006 when Major Martin was assigned to a unit in Germany. In part due to “issues” that surfaced during that European vacation, she said she and her sister have had little contact since 2006.

At the conclusion of the woman’s testimony, Major Martin’s attorneys presented an audio recording that revealed damning statements she had made during an April 2015 interview with a private investigator. The audio recording included a statement by the woman that her sister, Major Martin’s accuser, had been untruthful since childhood, had a propensity for making up stories for no apparent reason and could not be believed.

Damning indeed.

To read other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

FYI: Parts 2 and 3 of this series will be published Sunday at 8 a.m. and Noon Central, respectively.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Woman Writes Letter to General Who Made Decision to Prosecute Soldier-Brother on Sexual Assault Allegations

Today, in my continuing effort to expose the injustice surrounding the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, I share the text of a letter written by Juliet Andes, a sister of the Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot who stands falsely accused of sexual assault and other crimes by the woman he long considered his “legal” wife. Why do I share this letter now? Because Major Martin is set to go on trial Oct. 12 Dec. 1 inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky., unless the effort can be shut down before it begins.

Army Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this 2012 photo.

Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this 2012 his sister, Juliet, included in her letter June 19, 2014, letter to then-Brig. Gen. Mark R. Stammer.

Dated June 19, 2014, the letter was sent to then-Brig. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the man who was serving as acting commanding general and senior officer at the post that’s home of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division, before he received a promotion to major general and assumed command of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in the East African nation of Djibouti.

Why did the North Carolina woman send the letter to General Stammer? Because he’s the man who appears to have completely ignored the findings of multiple military and civilian agency investigations before deciding to press forward with the prosecution of Major Martin.

And why did General Stammer ignore those findings and opt for prosecution? One can only suspect General Stammer’s decision resulted from his desires: (1) to satisfy his superiors at the Pentagon who are under intense political pressure to prosecute any and all sexual assault allegations, regardless of any facts that surface; and (2) to earn a coveted second star.

The text of the letter from Major Martin’s sister to General Stammer appears below:

Dear General Stammer,

First, thank you for taking time to read this letter. I am writing to you as a mother, a daughter and a sister. I will try to keep it brief to respect your time, as I know you are a very busy man. I would like to begin by thanking you for your faithful and selfless service to our country, and for being a man committed to family values and doing the right thing. As a very busy working mother of 3 small children under the age of 6, I appreciate what it takes to command and lead, although my “army” is much smaller than yours. I am writing you in regards to my brother, Maj. Christian Martin. He is one of your men, a decorated veteran and also a man of strong faith and family values. He has served this country and your Army honorably. He is also in very big trouble. Perhaps my brother’s biggest fault is one of the things that make him a great soldier. He is a rescuer.

Several years ago, against strong reservations from our family, my brother met a woman online who told him she was a victim of abuse and he instantly came to her aid. He found her and her 3 children a safe place to live and married her a short time later (The marriage was just nullified by a Court of law as she was still married to her previous spouse). To make a long story short and spare you the gory details, years later my brother had finally had enough and asked for a divorce. The first words of of this woman’s mouth were “I’m going to ruin your career” and she has succeeded. My brother now finds himself facing a court marshal for a slew of disgusting charges that sicken me, as a mother, to even name. This woman, who hasn’t worked since she met my brother, has no integrity and was reprimanded in a civilian court for coaching her children to lie, is now not only victimizing my brother, but my family, my children (who adore their Uncle) and my aging parents. My brother has passed every test the Army has given him concerning these charges with flying colors, please; I beg of you, give him five minutes of your time to just hear his side of the story. The facts of the case speak for themselves, he has been found innocent on all charges in a civilian court of law. This has been going on for over two years and he needs help. Please stand by your soldier, give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance to defend his name and his honor when he’s spent so many years of his life defending ours.

I will end on a personal note if I can. We come from a long line of public servants; our father is a Vietnam veteran with 30 years of service, my sister a retired nurse in the Air Force. My twin sister and I are both local government employees who try to make a positive difference in this world. We are proud people of service and integrity. This woman has lied to my family about everything from having cancer (my parents are both cancer survivors) to being the first woman to climb Mt. Hood. She is not well. I worry for her children, whom my family loved as our own. The charges she has made to the military are vulgar and baseless and they are also very serious. As a mother and a woman, I am perhaps most offended by her abuse of the system. There are real women and children who experience this kind of unthinkable abuse everyday and taking that pain and cheapening it by using it in an untruthful way to exact revenge is the work of a very sick and disturbed person.

I appreciate your time and your commitment to your men, your Army and family. All I’m asking for is a voice for my brother. The facts will speak for themselves. I sincerely hope this letter lands on your desk and not in the waste bin. I feel helpless, frustrated, sad and scared. I want to raise my children in a just world, where their superheroes do save the day. Please, give my brother a chance to defend himself and make that happen.

“We’re going to focus on taking care of our people….” — Fort Campbell Courier, March, 2013.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Juliet Andes

To learn more about this case, read my Sept. 4 piece, Army Soldier-Aviator Faces Possible 58-Year Sentence As Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Seeks New Victim, and the other follow-up pieces I’ve written and published.

If, after reading about Major Martin’s case and watching the related videos, you find yourself in a state of disbelief or, perhaps, anger, I encourage you to channel those feelings by contacting any of the individuals listed below:

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer
c/o CJTF-HOA Public Affairs Office
Phone: +253 21-359-523
Email: africom.cldj.cjtf-hoa.mbx.public-affairs@mail.mil

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky
c/o 101st Airborne Division
Bldg. 2700, Indiana Avenue
Fort Campbell, KY 42223
(270) 798-3025
usarmy.campbell.93-sig-bde.list.public-website@mail.mil

Mr. Ashton Carter
Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
https://kb.defense.gov/app/ask

Mr. Jon T. Rymer
Inspector General
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 Rand Paul
167 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
(202) 224-4343
http://www.paul.senate.gov/connect/email-rand

Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2541
http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm

Senator Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4944
http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email

Senator Bob Corker
425 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3344
http://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme

Thanks in advance for getting involved and for sharing this news and updates about the case as it moves forward!

UPDATE 9/17/2015 at 12:22 p.m. Central: Moments ago, I obtained a copy of General Stammer’s brief and cold reply to Ms. Andes’ letter. The text of that reply appears below:

Ms. Andes,

Thank you very much for your letter and your heartfelt concern for your brother, Major Martin. i can assure you that he will get full due process under the law and he will be ably assisted by his defense counsel. Feel free to contact either his civilian or military defense counsel: Mrs. Katherine Demps at [phone # and email address redacted], or CPT J Hunter Whyte at [phone # and email address redacted]. Either one will be happy to provide the details on the court-martial process and how you can assist.

Very respectfully,

Mark Stammer

This article was updated to reflect a change in the trial date.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:26 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 11:14 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics Used as Weapons Against Honorable Military Men in Sexual Assault Witch Hunt

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase popularized by Mark Twain and used to describe the persuasive power of numbers and, particularly, the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. Especially during the past few years, lies, damned lies and statistics have been used in tandem with bogus sexual assault claims to end the careers and ruin the lives of military men.

Because Our Warriors Deserve Justice

More often than not, the folks dealing in lies, damned lies and statistics are members of the national news media, politically-active filmmakers and attorneys willing to overlook facts in order to promote an agenda. They’ve become so successful in spreading their misinformation that someone unfamiliar with military life might believe any woman who survives a single day in uniform has done the equivalent of surviving 24 hours inside a third-world prison.

For a stellar example of such biased reporting, one needs only turn to an ABC News Nightline segment about the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War, that aired Feb. 22, 2013. Featuring correspondent Cynthia McFadden, it includes mentions of a handful of cases purported to be representative of the so-called sexual assault “epidemic” in the military. Because I’m not privy to the facts of the individuals cases highlighted during the five-and-one-half minute segment, I won’t dwell on them in this piece. Instead, I’ll focus on the lies, damn lies and statistics pitched as truths.

McFadden begins by talking about sexual assault in the U.S. military:

“It has long been a shameful secret inside the U.S. military — the widespread epidemic of rape and sexual assault, where our countries defenders find themselves defenseless and, often, without a way to seek justice,” she begins. “Now, many of them are telling their stories in a powerful and moving Oscar-nominated documentary.”

McFadden continues speaking as images of aircraft and women in uniform flood the screen:

“Women have reached some of the highest echelons in the military. They are fighter pilots. Sit at the controls of Marine One. Have earned Silver Stars for courage under fire. As well as a general’s four stars. While they may be succeeding on the front lines, there is an invisible battle that is taking its toll. Listen to these women.”

The faces on the screen change as each woman has her say:

“Everything changed the day that I was raped,” says one woman;

“He hit me in the head and knocked me out,” says another; and

“I remember holding the closet thinking, ’What just happened?’” says a third.

McFadden’s voice returns to accompany slow-motion video of marching Soldiers, replaced seconds later by a logo for the documentary:

“Their stories are the heart of the Oscar-nominated documentary, ‘The Invisible War.’

A quick dissolve brings the image of a fourth woman into focus, and the woman says, “If this is happening to me, surely I’m not the only one,” before McFadden’s voice returns to accompany more moving images of Soldiers on the march:

“A film that shines a light on a hidden epidemic. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, some 30 percent of women in the military have been raped or sexually assaulted while serving their country.”

McFadden tosses out the “30 percent” figure as easily as a scantily-clad 19-year-old girl in short shorts launches free t-shirts into the bleachers at a semi-pro baseball game, prompting me to ask, “Was it a lie, a damned lie or simply a statistic?”

A simple online search leads me to believe it is, at best, a fudge-flavored statistic (i.e., a statistic about which someone “fudged” the truth). At worst, it’s a lie.

I found only two statistical entries offering such estimations. Both appeared on a VA fact sheet for which a more-detailed VA fact sheet is erroneously cited as a source for claims that 23 out of 100 women (or 23 percent) reported sexual assault when in the military and that 55 out of 100 women (or 55 percent) and 38 out of 100 men (or 38 percent) experienced sexual harassment when in the military.

Next, the Nightline segment moved indoors, into a studio, where Kirby Dick, the director whose filmography includes several documentaries on controversial subjects, sits against a black background and begins to gush statistics while unchallenged by the alleged journalist, McFadden.

Kirby goes on to say something I believe is true — “I’m just astounded by the statistics” — before he cites a statistic he declares to be truth: “Nineteen-thousand men and women are being sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. military.” But is that figure a lie, a damned lie or simply a statistic?

In search of an answer, I conducted another online search and found the figure used by folks at PBS in a report on a case of alleged sexual assault involving Air Force personnel less than three months later. In addition, I found the original source of the figure. It appears on page 13 of the 729-page document, Annual Report on Sexual Assault, Fiscal Year 2012, produced by the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. It does not, however, represent things the way McFadden, Dick and the folks at PBS might have you believe.

To understand what the number does represent, one can turn to an explanation that appears in a one of the report’s footnotes — that the estimate was computed using weighted population estimates of the 4.4 percent of active-duty women and 0.9 percent of active-duty men who indicated they experienced an incident of unwanted sexual contact in the 12 months prior to the 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members (WGRA) — but that explanation is not very helpful and might have you rubbing sleep out of your eyes.

Click on image above to read article.

Click on image above to read article.

A more helpful explanation appears early in a nine-page article, Fostering Constructive Dialogue on Military Sexual Assault, published inside Issue 69, 2nd Quarter 2013, of the National Defense University Press publication, Joint Forces Quarterly:

At a press conference in January 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that he estimates there were 19,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2011. That number is derived from a statement in the Department of Defense (DOD) Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal Year 2010. The report does not actually explain its methodology for arriving at the number, but it does state the number is based on data from the Defense Manpower Data Center 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey. Perhaps more importantly, the report does not refer to 19,000 sexual assaults, but rather 19,000 reports by individuals of unwanted sexual contact.

The Defense Manpower Data Center 2010 survey never uses the number 19,000. Rather, the document relays the results of a survey of 10,029 Active-duty female Servicemembers and 14,000 Active-duty male Servicemembers. The survey itself is forthright and explicit about the numbers it produces and its methodology. The sample size and sample composition necessarily make extrapolation military-wide problematic. The sample was clearly weighted toward female responses, and the definition of unwanted sexual contact did not align at all with the colloquial understanding or any statutory or legal definition of sexual assault. Nevertheless, the number 19,000 arose as an extrapolation from the numbers in this sampling, and this number has pervaded the media discussion ever since. Most practitioners of justice and criminal investigators throughout the military should agree that the figure cited by Secretary Panetta is unrealistically high.

If you suspect the JFQ article was written by a long-in-the-tooth male military officer eager to please his superiors, then you’re wrong. Instead, it was written by then-Captain Lindsay L. Rodman, a female Marine Corps officer who was serving as a Judge Advocate (a.k.a., “military lawyer”) at Judge Advocate Division, Headquarters Marine Corps, at the time she wrote the piece.

A statement Captain Rodman wrote about the 19,000 figure stands as a sort of indictment of those who deal in lies, damned lies and statistics for personal gain:

“Nevertheless, the number 19,000 arose as an extrapolation from the numbers in this sampling, and this number has pervaded the media discussion ever since. Most practitioners of justice and criminal investigators throughout the military should agree that the figure cited by Secretary Panetta is unrealistically high.”

A telling footnote seems to target lazy journalists:

For the numbers to work out according to their math, this extrapolation necessarily requires that half of those victims (up to about 10,000) would be male, which anecdotally seems questionable.”

Other unsubstantiated figures are tossed out during the Nightline segment. Chief among them is one McFadden included in a statement — “In fact, only 8 percent of assault cases go to trial” — that’s not accompanied by any attribution or source document.

Incredibly, according to Dick, military leaders have made his documentary part of DoD’s sexual assault awareness program. Need I say more about how bent and twisted the military has become due to political correctness?

There are more issues l could tackle, but I think I’ve made a strong enough case without going beyond these lies, damn lies and statistics.

To see the impact the lies, damn lies and statistics associated with the Pentagon’s sexual assault witch hunt are having on honorable military men, I encourage you to read about two Army combat veterans:

Maj. Christian “Kit’ Martin is a Ranger and attack helicopter pilot whose trial on bogus sexual assault charges begins Oct. 12 Dec. 1 at Fort Campbell, Ky; and

• Former Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart is the elite Green Beret medic and sniper whose life is chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.

This article was updated to reflect a change in the trial date.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:27 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 11:15 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

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