A lot of folks will be wearing costumes and masks tonight, but, God willing, I’ll continue to be who I am and do what I do best. The latest examples of my work can be found below in my weekly recap for Oct. 25-31, 2015.
Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.
Today, I plan to watch some football, run some stairs at my favorite lake and hand out sugar pills to kids too young to care about getting fat from eating them.
Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the articles above and those to follow. You can show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. To learn how to order signed copies, click here.
I’ve talked with dozens of military men about their experiences of being falsely accused of sexual assault during the four years since the release of my book, Three Days In August. Today, I learned some of their cases were likely tainted by the fact members serving on court-martial panels — the military equivalent of a jury — during their trials had watched “The Invisible War” as part of the Army’s sexual assault awareness and prevention training.
In an article published Monday about the case of former Army Sgt. Todd Knight, I mentioned the fact than an Army lieutenant colonel selected to serve on the court-martial panel during Sergeant Knight’s trial said he had watched a 20-minute clip from the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War,” as part of “a sexual assault special briefing” for Army leaders.
This photo shows Todd Knight in his Army uniform prior to being accused of rape and convicted on a lesser charge.
In the same article, I mentioned how that colonel, along with other members of the panel, had found Sergeant Knight guilty and sentenced him to one year behind bars and a reduction in rank 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. What I failed to mention is that Knight is out of prison now and living as a convicted sex offender while working through the appeals process, hoping to see his conviction overturned.
Below is an excerpt from the aforementioned article:
CASE TWO: CONTROVERSIAL ALLEGATIONS OF RAPE
In another case that has become infamous and a rallying cry for politicians, is a case at Marine Barracks 8th & I, where a female officer alleged she was raped by another officer. In that case evidence revealed that the complainant, Ariana Klay, was cheating on her husband with the officer that she accused of raping her. That evidence is based on her own testimony. The relationship lasted for an 18-month period.
Before she made the allegations of rape, evidence revealed that she was caught in bed naked with a junior Marine from the barracks. During a formal investigation into other allegations made by Klay, the female investigator and former prosecutor came close to discovering the truth of the affair and of the romp with the junior Marine— which could have revealed Klay’s sexual relationship with the officer she later accused of rape. Shortly before the completion of the investigation, she alleged rape again. This alleged offense happened on the same day that her lover found her naked with a junior Marine.
Significant evidence stood in contrast with her claims: also present at the time of the alleged sexual rape was a witness who testified he could hear Klay and her lover in her bedroom laughing and engaged in what sounded like a good time. During examination at trial, Klay contradicted herself under oath and told many lies. She could not explain why she sent my client a nearly naked picture of herself in a bikini on the beach taken by her husband, a week after the alleged rape.
In spite of this information, Klay is featured in an HBO movie called The Invisible War. While I cannot comment about the other women in the Invisible War, I think Klay’s own testimony reveals the film’s lack of objectivity or validity regarding sex assaults in the military, at least with respect to the Klay case.
In addition to the allegations-related content of Klay’s trial testimony, I found it interesting that Klay said her husband, Ben Klay, “works for the White House Budget Office.”
It will be interesting to find out how Army officials justify continued use of this documentary as part of their sexual assault awareness and prevention training.
Three years ago this month, I was contacted for the first time by Teresa McQueen, a woman whose son, Todd Knight — then a 25-year-old Army Sergeant stationed in Germany — had been accused of raping a 19-year-old woman. Today, I offer a long-overdue update about that case and issue a call to action.
This photo shows Todd Knight in his Army uniform prior to being accused of rape and convicted on a lesser charge.
First, a review of some case details is in order.
On March 7, 2013, I published an article that included snippets about several cases involving military men accused of sex crimes. Below is the text of the portion of the aforementioned article that pertained to Knight’s case:
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, 2013, she wrote that she had known Sergeant Knight for more than two years, and then she dropped 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.”
Unfortunately, communications with Knight’s family ended a few months after the trial — they were, to say the least, distraught — and resulted in me not receiving copies of several documents, including the Record of Trial. Things changed, however, a few days ago, after I came across Knight’s case among my military justice files and decided to contact his mother again.
In response, she sent me an electronic copy of the ROT as well as several documents related to his appeal. She stated that she wanted me to look through his documents as she wanted the opinion of someone who understood Appeal Law in relation to his case.
In the ROT, I learned several Soldiers selected to serve on the court-martial panel (i.e., the military equivalent of a jury) were in the rating chain of either the convening authority (i.e., the senior officer ordering a court-martial be held) or another panel member. Any chance of undue command influence as a result? Damn right!
I learned Sgt. 1st Class Gary G. Emmert told the court he had completed the 80 hours of Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training necessary to serve as a sexual assault victim advocate and was, in fact, serving as the victim advocate for his unit at the time he was tasked to serve as a panel member.
I learned LTC John D. Koch told the court he had served on “multiple court-martials before” and, while that’s not unusual for a line officer of his rank, something else he said caught my attention. When asked if he had ever served on a panel adjudicating a sexual assault case, he answered, “Yes.” Asked how many times he had served on such a panel, he answered, “I believe twice. I’ve lost count of how many were there.”
Colonel Koch also confirmed that he had received “a sexual assault special briefing” for Army leaders while stationed at Vicenza, Italy, earlier the same year. During that special briefing, he and fellow trainees watched a 20-minute clip from “The Invisible War.” the Oscar-nominated documentary in which a handful of cases purported to be representative of the so-called sexual assault “epidemic” in the military are highlighted while solid facts, as highlighted in my recent article about lies, damned lies and statistics, are largely excluded.
Could forcing Soldiers to watch that film be construed as exerting undue command influence via brainwashing? I think so. But I digress.
Because the ROT contains 663 pages, I’ll use a 15-page document — the brief filed April 9, 2014, on Knight’s behalf with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals by Frank Spinner, his Colorado Springs-based civilian defense attorney, and Capt. Brian Sullivan, his military defense attorney — to help explain why the case against Knight was so weak. Below is the text of that document’s “Argument” section with boldface type added for emphasis by yours truly and the names of the accuser and the author of the aforementioned “To Whom It May Concern” letter redacted:
The government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that SGT Knight engaged in an act of sexual intercourse with (accuser) while she was substantially incapacitated and that SGT Knight was not under a mistaken belief that she consented to sexual intercourse. The case is built on (accuser’s) credibility regarding what happened when she was alone with SGT Knight in the apartment bathroom.
The defense portrayed (accuser) as a woman who flirted with SGT Knight through the course of the social evening they experienced with mutual friends, but who turned on him after they consensually engaged in sexual intercourse and she learned he had a girlfriend. She did not back down from her claim, because she saw an opportunity to financially benefit from a victim compensation opportunity.
The government countered by claiming that SGT Knight took advantage of her because of the amount of her alcohol consumption, which left her vulnerable and impaired to the degree that she was unable to consent.
The government presented testimony from German police and Army forensic experts addressing chains of custody and laboratory analysis of evidence. Their testimony, however, was not helpful in determining the central issue of consent. They merely confirmed that a complaint was made and investigated, following normal protocols, even though the investigation was somewhat limited in scope.
SGT Knight did not testify, instead relying on the requirement for the government to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
To the extent that accuser testified, she acknowledged that she had a poor, arguably selective, memory about what happened that night. No witness saw her pass out, nor was there any evidence she consumed any more alcohol than anyone else who socialized with them that evening. The accuser, an experienced drinker, who admitted to getting drunk on prior occasions, confirmed she had no more to drink that night than what is normal for her.
This begs the question: what evidence supports her claim that she was substantially incapacitated? There is no evidence other than that she consumed six drinks over a period of four hours. This amount of alcohol consumption, standing alone, does not prove substantial incapacitation beyond a reasonable doubt. The government did not present any evidence that accuser was drugged, even though she claimed that she may have been drugged.
Then there is the issue of whether the government disproved the mistake of fact affirmative defense beyond a reasonable doubt. When the testimony of the witness is combined with the photographs of SGT Knight and accuser, the evidence clearly supports a mistake of fact defense.
The witness’ testimony deserves closer scrutiny. The witness observed the interaction between accuser and SGT Knight at the critical point where SGT Knight went into the bathroom at her apartment. She also talked to accuser right after the alleged rape. Witness appears to have inferred from what she heard and observed that accuser pulled SGT Knight in the bathroom and rubbed her back and, afterwards, when telling witness that she had sex with SGT Knight, wanted to communicate with him again. It was at this point witness informed accuser that SGT Knight would not respond because he had a girlfriend. Thus, a potential motive for the claim was born.
One possible explanation for the court members’ decision involves the face that accuser vomited a couple of times that night. On the one hand, it could be argued that no one would have sex with another person in that condition. On the other hand, in the context of individuals drinking and flirting with each other, why would this face necessarily keep two people from having sex? There is not way this question can be easily answered. The real problem is whether any adverse inference that flows from this fact against SGT Knight should be drawn beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no empirical basis for drawing such an inference.
In the absence of any objective corroboration of accuser’s claim that she was sexually assaulted, what evidence makes her believable beyond a reasonable doubt? There is none. In fact, a number of considerations raise serious questions about her credibility. Why did she use a translator when she testified? Accuser was born to a U.S. Army soldier, and who was married to a U.S. Army soldier at the time of trial, simply did not need that assistance.
Then there is the question regarding whether accuser may have been drugged. Although she acknowledged that this is what she originally believed, by the time of trial, her belief had changed because there was no evidence to support this belief. At trial, her story became that in pretrial interviews the prosecutors helped her see how drunk she was. This is inconsistent, however, with the amount of alcohol this experienced drinker consumed that night by her own admission.
Finally, was there some financial motive behind her claim? She retained an attorney shortly after she made her initial complaint, for the purpose of seeking victim compensation from the Army.
Just as experts could not look at the physical evidence and determine whether they were caused by assaultive behavior, this Court cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt that accuser told the truth or that SGT Knight did not have a mistaken belief that she consented to sexual intercourse.
Perhaps as damning as the claim by the author of the “To Whom It May Concern” letter that the accuser had told her she had not been raped, is the fact the accuser received a payment from the U.S. Army as compensation for pain and suffering stemming from a rape that did not happen. While I’ve been told she received a payment in the neighborhood of $20,000, I’m attempting to obtain a copy of any official documentation that reveals the exact amount of money she received. I will share that amount in an update as soon as I get it.
“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.
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 Nightlinesegment 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?
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.
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: