Posts Tagged With: sexual assault

Judge London Steverson, This Is Your Life

 https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Coast-Guard-Tiger-ebook/dp/B077G9BS5R/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Judge London Steverson has written the story of his life. Trying to write a book about my life is like trying to describe the landscape by looking out the window of a moving train. The events continue to unfold faster than one can describe them. My life is a work in progress. For this reason I have decided to look at my life in phases that have a clearly defined beginning and an end. In this book I intend to describe that part of my life that was shaped by my involvement in the Martial Arts. 

https://www.amazon.com/Judge-London-Steverson/e/B006WQKFJM


IN A NUT SHELL 
I, London Eugene Livingston Steverson retired from the United States Coast Guard in 1988 as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR). Later, I retired from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as the Senior Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Office of Disability Appeals and Review (ODAR) Downey, California.
In 1964, I was one of the first two African Americans to receive an Appointment as a Cadet to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. I graduated in 1968. After two years at sea on an Icebreaker, the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), and another two years as a Search and Rescue Operations Officer in the 17th Coast Guard District Juneau, Alaska, I was appointed Chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section in the Office of Personnel at Coast Guard Headquarters, 7th and D Street, SW, in Washington, DC. My primary duty was to recruit Black High School graduates for the Coast Guard Academy. This was my passion, so I set about this in a most vigorous manner.
I have written several books concerning Military Justice, famous Courts-martial Cases, and Social Security Disability Determination Cases. I am a retired member of the New York State Bar Association, The Association of The Bar of The City of New York, and The Tennessee Bar Associations.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Harry Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948, but the military academies lagged far behind in officer recruiting.
President John F. Kennedy specifically challenged the Coast Guard Academy to increase appointments to qualified Black American high school students.
I was one of the first Black High School students to be offered such an appointment in 1964. I had a Black classmate from New Jersey, Kenny Boyd. We would become known as “The Kennedy Cadets”, because the pressure to recruit us originated with President John F. Kennedy.
On June 4, 1968, I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
My first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 I reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy. I served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. I traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station.
In 1974, while still an active duty member of the Coast Guard, I entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University. I graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.
I worked as a Law Specialist in the 12th Coast Guard District Office, San Francisco, California and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney for the collection of Civil Penalties under the Federal Boating Safety Act from 1979 to 1982. As Assistant District Legal Officer, I was required to defend as well as prosecute military members who had been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Occasionally I was asked to represent other officers in administrative actions involving sexual harassment and discrimination. One such case was the Case of Christine D. Balboni . 

 Ensign (ENS) Balboni was one of the first female graduates of the Academy, Class of 1981. She filed the first case of Sexual Harassment case in the military.

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Categories: SteversonBookCollection | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Then He Opened The Wrong Door

 

                                                                                                                   

      Once a marine, always a marine. A proud saying that bears repeating.

Once a retired officer, always an officer. Retired officers are only receiving lower compensation. They are still on the payroll. They can be brought back to active duty for disciplinary action. A retired officer can be punished by court-martial.

Former Cadet Alexander Arthur Stevens, U S Coast Guard Academy, was found dead not wearing any clothing on January 4, 2017 in the forested mountains of western Maryland shortly after a female companion walked out of the woods, suffering from hypothermia, authorities said. His naked body showed signs of trauma, according to police.

Stevens is a former U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet who was booted from the academy in 2014 following an alleged sexual-assault investigation.

(See http://cgachasehall.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-weak-case-for-court-martial.html)
Following the disciplinary action by the Superintendent at the Academy, Alexander Stevens went home to Frostburg and enrolled at Frostburg State University, university spokeswoman Elizabeth Medcalf said. He attended last fall, majoring in engineering, but had not enrolled for the spring semester, she said.

Stevens and a female companion were last seen together around 5 p.m. January 3 near a Savage River State Forest trail-head near the rural community of Barton, about 140 west of Baltimore, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said. A search was launched at about 3 a.m. January 4 in response to a 911 call reporting them missing.

The female walked out of the woods to a house shortly before 9 a.m., and emergency responders were called. A Maryland State Police helicopter crew spotted Stevens’ body shortly thereafter on private property adjacent to the 54,000-acre state forest.

His body showed signs of undisclosed trauma. Cadet Stevens was found near Pine Swamp Road, which is crossed by the Big Savage Mountain hiking trail. The trail there follows a logging road through steep, rocky terrain, according to the website of Garrett Trails, a nonprofit group that promotes hiking in Garrett County.

The night was relatively mild, with overnight lows in nearby Frostburg and Cumberland never dropping below 40 F degrees. Live traffic cameras operated by the Maryland Department of Transportation show little snow cover remaining along Interstate 68 after a storm 4 days prior covered the region with up to 6 inches.

The investigation was conducted by the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division and the State Police Homicide Unit. Assistance was provided by the Allegany County Combined Criminal Investigations Unit (C3I) and Natural Resources Police.   Limited information has been provided by state police investigators.

The relationship between Stevens and the female has been reported as “boyfriend, girlfriend.” The woman, believed to be in her 20s, reportedly cooperated with investigators throughout the investigation. In a 911 call, she reportedly told emergency workers that Cadet Stevens had fallen off a cliff.

According to Elena Russo, state police spokesman at Pikesville, “We are still waiting for toxicology reports”.

 

                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                   (Cadet Alexander Stevens, above right)

 

Cadet Alexander Stevens was a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). He was a native of the Frostburg, MD area. In high school he was active in plays and musicals, having a fine baritone voice. He was a member of the Concert choir. He was the Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance. He played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. He was a member of Concert band, Jazz Orchestra, and Marching band all four years of high school. He was a natural for the Coast Guard Academy Glee Club.

        He participated in football, basketball, cross-country and track & field. 

        He attended the Cambridge University in England Summer Program for high school students.

        The American Legion selected him as their representative to Maryland Boys State.

        He was a Boy Scout and Senior Patrol Leader, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

        He was a World Traveler, traveling widely through Western Europe and Korea. 

        He loved the great outdoors, and was an avid camper.

        He loved to stargaze, rock climb, and hike.

        He had a great sense of humor and he loved animals. 

        He was an all around nice guy. He was meek and lowly.

        He was the main speaker at his high school graduation, giving the Senior Address.

 

       He was accused at the Coast Guard Academy of breaking into the room of a female cadet of lower rank in Chase Hall and sexually abusing her.

The Coast Guard prosecutor, Lt. Tyler McGill, alleged that Cadet Stevens  was on a mission for sexual gratification that September night. The room Stevens entered was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

Lt. John Cole, Cadet Stevens’ Assigned Military Defense Counsel, said the government didn’t prove sexual intent. He claimed Stevens was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake.

Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Cole argued that Stevens should face administrative punishment, which can include expulsion. Administrative punishment is not criminal in nature. Non-judicial punishment (NJP) under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the lowest form of criminal proceeding available to the military. Above NJP there are three levels of courts-martial. They are a Summary, a Special and a General Court-matial. They differ in the maximum amount of punishment they can award to a convicted member. A court martial is a Federal Criminal Trial and can lead to prison time if the person is convicted.

The Article 32 pretrial investigation is similar to a civilian grand jury. It is used to determine whether there is enough evidence to refer the case to a court-martial.

A hearing in the form of an Article 32 Investigation was held  Wednesday April 2nd at the Coast Guard Academy. The Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) has not yet made a recommendation. The IO could recommend that the case be dismissed, dealt with administratively or referred for trial by court-martial.

Usually the accused usually does not testify at an Article 32 Hearing.

Most smart Defense Counsels do not let their clients testify at an Article 32 Hearing. They use that opportunity to discover the Government’s case. They get a chance to see how much evidence the Government has and how strong it is.

Cadet Stevens, who was accused of abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry, did not testify.

The Testimony was weak.

The female complaining witness testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him.

“I remember someone fumbling with my blanket that was on top of me and touching my leg,” she said, describing skin-to-skin contact and the swirling motion of a hand moving up her leg. “I kicked my legs and I screamed.”

The man either fell or jumped off her bed and fled. She says she chased him and located a friend.

“I kept telling him (the friend) that’s not right,” she said, noting that she was shaking and crying.

The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

“I think he should be kicked out of the Coast Guard. I think he should be a registered sex offender, and I think he should go to jail,” she said.

Cadet Stevens’ explanation Was credible and exculpatory.

Stevens said in an interview that he went into the fellow cadet’s room and touched her with his hand, said Eric Gempp, a special agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). Stevens said he was startled when the cadet said, “Hey!” He quickly left the room, Stevens told investigators.

Stevens said he went into the room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, Gempp testified.

Defense Counsel was able to get the accused’s statements into the record without him taking the witness stand.

Chief Robert Cain testified that Stevens voluntarily came to him and told him during a night of drinking he got into an argument with his girlfriend. Cain said Stevens told him after returning to his room that he decided to apologize and went to what he thought was his girlfriend’s room, tapped her on the leg and realized he was in the wrong room.

Another cadet testified that classmates often go into the wrong rooms, but said the mistake typically involves going into a room one or two doors away.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 at a General Court-martial and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

(The Webster Smith Case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is fully documented in a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and a Lady” available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021 )

The Article 32 investigating officer (IO) in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial.

Anonymous said…QUOTE:
This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

 
Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

UNQUOTE.

Coast Guard cadet won’t be court-martialed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) 12 June 2014 — A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet accused of entering a classmate’s room and touching her leg will not face a court martial, the academy said Thursday.

Coast Guard Academy Superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, agreed with the recommendations of an Article 32 Investigating Officer that reasonable grounds did not exist to support the charge of abusive sexual contact against cadet Alexander Stevens. Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, also agreed with a recommendation to impose nonjudicial punishment (NJP) on Cadet Stevens for unlawfully entering a cadet barracks room while drunk and touching another cadet on the leg, Coast Guard officials said.

The academy did not disclose details of the punishment, citing Stevens’ privacy rights. Nonjudicial punishment may include a reprimand, arrest in quarters for up to 30 days, pay forfeiture or expulsion from the academy.

“The Academy has remained committed to providing all needed support to the victim, ensuring a full and fair proceeding in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and holding those who commit misconduct accountable for their actions,” said Capt. James McCauley, the Commandant of Cadets at the U S Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT..

In September 2013, Stevens said, he went into the fellow cadet’s room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, an investigator testified.

He was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake, Lt. John Cole, who represented Stevens, said during the Article 32 Pre-trial investigation at the Academy in April 2014.

The female cadet classmate testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him. The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

A Government appointed prosecutor, LT Tyler McGill, at the Article 32 Investigation argued that Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification. The room Stevens went into was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room, Lt. Tyler McGill said, and noted that the classmate was lower in rank.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

But the government failed to prove sexual intent, Cole argued.

“Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Stevens did not testify.

A conviction in a court martial can lead to prison time.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

(By John Christoffersen, AP) 

 
COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FROM CADETS AT THE COAST GUARD ACADEMY WERE QUICK AND CONSISTENT  (and mostly anonymous)
(1)

This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

 
(2)  The woman is definitely not officer material as she won’t hold up in a war front or during a battle… thrown into the mist of a battle or fight, she would be complaining someone touch her precious body. Now if he grab some titty or fondle her #$%$ or box, then that would be not acceptable. She just made the ultimate mistake in the military and this will follow her every place she goes and NO ONE will respect her.

Signed,

Disgusted

 
(3)   So a person has to let the courts take care of something that should have been dealt with on the spot. I don’t think this attitude works for the decisiveness required of future officers.

Signed,

Concerned Citizen

 
(4)  In mixed dorms, with the history of abuse in the academy, don’t these people have locks on their doors? Is it some kind of statement of female independence not to lock door at least at night?

This situation is a bit fuzzy and in a world now where any even anonymous allegation is given major notice, how much truth is there here. On either side.

Signed,

johnb

 
(5)  Oh please, grow up. What is she, ten? A REAL woman would just demand he takes his hand off of her and if he doesn’t comply, slap him. It’s worked for centuries. And what evidence is there? She could be making up the whole thing. I’m a bit tired of people making accusations for which there is no proof. It’s too easy.

Signed,

Mike

 
(6)  No locks on the doors??

Signed,

Peter

 
(7)  Girls, guys–they are all equal now. If a guy had been in this girl’s place, what would he have done? He’d kick the #$%$ out of the offender; so this gal should have done the same thing.

Signed,

Jonathan

 
(8)  I miss the good old days, where she’d have a guy friend beat some sense into this guy and the issue would be resolved. Now everything has to be a sensational court drama. The new USSA – any violation and off to the goolag. We have more people incarcerated in this country than any other civilized country in the world. Won’t be long before we start throwing people in jail for not having health insurance(IRS aka SS is involved).

Signed,

Scooter

 
(9)  She is just trying to get extra treatment in a very difficult place for any one to gain the upper hand. Wow, I guess no more parties, Mardi Gras, ridding NY subway, buses at rush hour as I’m bound to bump into someone and sometimes it’s their #$%$ or bellies or legs and sometimes oversized boobs. Lets get unserious on this type of accidental touching. Shocked it made the news unless someone is looking to bash the Academy… jealous are you!

Signed,

Disgusted
 
(10)  Having graduated from that Academy myself, I’m almost embarrased that such a trivial event as a guy getting drunk, thinking he’s in his girlfriend’s room, putting a hand on her leg, being yelled at, quickly removing his hand, and quickly leaving the room is a call for JAIL time? Court martial? Sexual Predator list? C’mon, there was no intent here. No “sexual” contact. No “housebreaking” (as I’m sure the door was not locked.) Does this guy have a record of ever doing anything like that before? Does this girl have a record of being overly sensitive about herself? When I was there this is the kind of thing that the Corps would handle without ever involving the authorities. Now I guess it’s like everywhere else.

Signed,

HansenJG

 
(11)  HansenJG, I am inclined to agree with you but we don’t know all of the facts. I did note that she said her grades suffered after the incident. Was she about to be dismissed from the Academy for grades and then brought this up as a way to continue her education on the taxpayer’s dime?

Signed,

Troy

 
(12)  The woman is definitely not officer material as she won’t hold up in a war front or during a battle… thrown into the mist of a battle or fight, she would be complaining someone touch her precious body. Now if he grab some titty or fondle her #$%$ or box, then that would be not acceptable. She just made the ultimate mistake in the military and this will follow her every place she goes and NO ONE will respect her.
 
(13)  I’ll bet you would change your tune if it were a gay soldier who came into your room and touched YOUR leg… I mean really, how do you expect to hold up in battle if you can’t handle a man coming into your room and touching your leg in a sexual fashion.

Signed,

Star Spangled

 
(14)  His story adds up…hers sounds more emotionally driven. Was it traumatic? I’m sure. Was he at fault for being drunk and disorderly? Of course. Does a brush of the hand on a thigh constitute serious sexual assault? No…a mistake he needs to rectify, but shes not a much a victim as she thinks she is. If there was no malicious intent and no real harm done, then where is the major crime?

Signed,

Doug

 
(15)  She sounds like she is extremely sensitive and is not good with startling situations considering she is not sleeping and her grades are suffering. The military or any high stress and or potentially dangerous job is really not the place for her. I do see a problem with the guy not sticking around, apologizing and explaining the error at the time it happened.

Signed,

M

 
 
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The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

WebsterSmithBookCoverPreview.do

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Cadet-Webster-Smith-Last/dp/1533400806/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Synopsis:

 

We, as Americans, cherish fairness. We like to believe that people are not punished or unjustly rewarded without justifiable cause. We like to dwell on parables of white virtue and black advancement culminating in the flowering of goodwill all around. Events sometimes force us to widen our gaze and focus on terrain we would rather not see. The 2006 court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith at the United States Coast Guard Academy did just that. The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people, and as Americans, on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. Our sense of justice in America and particularly in the U.S. Military was on trial. This was no ordinary trial. Our humanity was on trial. Our system of justice was on trial. This case dissolved the deceptive façade and exposed certain moral deficiencies in our system of justice. This case alone puts the legitimacy of the entire military justice system at risk.

Webster Smith availed himself of every path to justice that we have. He filed an Article 138 Complaint under the UCMJ. He faced the Article 32 Investigation with two lawyers. He asserted all of his Constitutional Criminal Guarantees. He knew and made appropriate use of the Right to Counsel, the Right to Remain Silent, the right to a jury trial, the Right to Confront the witnesses against him, the right call witnesses on his behalf, the right to present evidence favorable to him, the presumption of innocence until his guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to argue his case before the Jury.

His Appellate Counsel, Ronald Machen, was top notch. He became the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In April 2015, he left the position and returned to the law firm WilmerHale.  Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr®  has played a leading role in historic events and landmark cases that have shaped the nation and left their mark across the globe. In matters ranging from the Army-McCarthy hearings to the legal defense of civil rights, from the 9/11 Commission to the restoration of the rule of law in apartheid-torn South Africa, their lawyers have made contributions that have profoundly affected our society. Because the law is still a profession as well as a business, lawyers have special obligations to the administration of justice and the development of the law. Their lawyers are  encouraged to meet these obligations through pro bono work. Attorney Machen represented Webster Smith on a pro bono basis. He received no fee.

Webster Smith appealed his conviction all the way to the United States Supreme Court. He lost at the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. He lost at the Court Of Appeals for the Armed Forces of the United States. The U. S. Supreme Court dismissed his appeal without comment. And, on top of the aforesaid, he filed a Complaint of Discrimination, pursuant to Commandant Instruction 5350.11. He had an air tight and fool proof case of disparate treatment. Yet, he lost. He lost because the System was manned by the most incompetent people God ever created. They did not have a clue as to what was going on in their office. The most significant case in the history of the Department of Homeland Security and the Armed Forces of America came to them and they were not capable of processing it properly.

On top of everything else, Webster Smith had bad luck. At some juncture along the way, most other people would have won, but not Webster Smith. One has to wonder why. There are some who will say that it was because he was Black. They will say that the System was designed and administered by white men and women; and, no Black man can obtain justice in that System. They might have a point, even though some of the decisions made concerning his case were made by Black people in key offices.

We now see that there is little or no justice in military justice. Any reasonable person who looks at this case or any other high profile military justice case would have to conclude that the Military Justice System is not designed to render justice. It is a system designed to punish. The entire courts-martial system, from Summary Court-martial to General Court-martial, has one specific purpose; that is to punish anyone who commits an offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This is intended to be the definitive word on the first and only court-martial of a United States Coast Guard Academy cadet. The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word is written from the perspective of the accused, Cadet First Class Webster Smith. It is not written from the perspective of his accusers. A prior account of this case focused on the women involved. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Lady told the story of the court-martial from the perspective of the witnesses for the prosecution.

Why now? Well, there are several reasons. This Case is unique in that this has never happened before. No other Coast Guard Academy Cadet has ever been punished at a General Courts-martial. That is saying a lot for an institution that has been around since 1876.

Also, it has been ten years since the trial and conviction. An entire decade has passed. The sentence has been served. The Supreme Court Petition for A Writ of Certiorari has been denied. The Record is complete.

Cadet Smith was a senior when the trial began. He was within months of graduating from the Academy, but he was expelled. No Clemency was granted. His career was ruined. His life was irreparably harmed. For ten years he was required to register in the State of Texas as a Sexual offender. He married, had children, and for ten years he was not allowed to attend the birthday parties of his children.

This Case has been hotly debated in certain quarters. The Coast Guard has tried its best to forget that this court-martial ever occurred. However, I fear that this Case will be debated and talked about for years to come. Long after the political and social climates that gave rise to this Case have abated; cadets, officers, politicians and parents will be discussing the Webster Smith Case.

What distinguishes this book from other books on the Case is that this book distinguishes how the Coast Guard Legal Officers and the senior Academy officers disposed of this case as opposed to other cases with similar fact patterns. This Case will serve as a witness to an era in the United States Military and its Service Academies that was ripe with cultural and ethical upheavals, proceedings with plenty of due process and little justice, sexual assaults in the military, retaliation against whistleblowers, mind blowing results, aggravation and frustration. 

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Title ID: 6293877

ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

 

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The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Unrestricted Coast Guard Chronicles Vol 02 Nr 01

BY_AUTHOR Judge London Steverson

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ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

6″ x 9″ on WHITE Paper

(198 pages, Black & White)

15.24 x 22.86 cm

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Interior: The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word – updated version edited 2- formatted15Apr11.docx

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Cover Finish: Glossy

Cover: cover-creator.pdf

 

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Title ID: 6293877

ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Case Too Weak For A Court-martial

 

Cadet Alexander Stevens is a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). He is accused of breaking into the room of a female cadet of lower rank in Chase Hall and sexually abusing her.

On or about April 4, an anonymous person of great intellect and enormous insight left the following comment on my blob at cgachasehall.blogspot.com. I was so impressed by it that I reproduce it here without alteration or editing.

QUOTE:

This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

UNQUOTE

 

The Coast Guard prosecutor, Lt. Tyler McGill, has alleged that Cadet Stevens  was on a mission for sexual gratification that September night. The room Stevens entered was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

Lt. John Cole, Cadet Stevens’ Assigned Military Defense Counsel, said the government didn’t prove sexual intent. He claims Stevens was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake.

Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Cole argued that Stevens should face administrative punishment, which can include expulsion. Administrative punishment is not criminal in nature. Non-judicial punishment (NJP) under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the lowest form of criminal proceeding available to the military. Above NJP there are three levels of courts-martial. They are a Summary, a Special and a General Court-matial. They differ in the maximum amount of punishment they can award to a convicted member. A court martial is a Federal Criminal Trial and can lead to prison time if the person is convicted.

The Article 32 pretrial investigation is similar to a civilian grand jury. It is used to determine wheteher there is enough evidence to refer the case to a court-martial.

A hearing in the form of an Article 32 Investigation was held  Wednesday April 2nd at the Coast Guard Academy. The Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) has not yet made a recommendation. The IO could recommend that the case be dismissed, dealt with administratively or referred for trial by court-martial.

Usually the accused usually does not testify at an Article 32 Hearing.

Most smart Defense Counsels do not let their clients testify at an Article 32 Hearing. They use that opportunity to discover the Government’s case. They get a chance to see how much evidence the Government has and how strong it is.

Cadet Stevens, who is accused of abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry, did not testify.

 

The Testimony was weak.

The female complaining witness testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him.

“I remember someone fumbling with my blanket that was on top of me and touching my leg,” she said, describing skin-to-skin contact and the swirling motion of a hand moving up her leg. “I kicked my legs and I screamed.”

The man either fell or jumped off her bed and fled. She says she chased him and located a friend.

“I kept telling him (the friend) that’s not right,” she said, noting that she was shaking and crying.

The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

“I think he should be kicked out of the Coast Guard. I think he should be a registered sex offender, and I think he should go to jail,” she said.

Cadet Stevens’ explanation Is credible and exculpatory.

Stevens said in an interview that he went into the fellow cadet’s room and touched her with his hand, said Eric Gempp, a special agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). Stevens said he was startled when the cadet said, “Hey!” He quickly left the room, Stevens told investigators.

Stevens said he went into the room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, Gempp testified.

Defense Counsel was able to get the accused’s statements into the record without him taking the witness stand.

Chief Robert Cain testified that Stevens voluntarily came to him and told him during a night of drinking he got into an argument with his girlfriend. Cain said Stevens told him after returning to his room that he decided to apologize and went to what he thought was his girlfriend’s room, tapped her on the leg and realized he was in the wrong room.

Another cadet testified that classmates often go into the wrong rooms, but said the mistake typically involves going into a room one or two doors away.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 at a General Court-martial and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

 

(The Webster Smith Case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is fully documented in a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and a Lady” available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021 )

The Article 32 investigating officer (IO) in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial.

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My Husband Is A Victim Of Flawed Civilian Command Policies

 A Wife Responds

When the strains of war lead to infidelity

By Rebecca Sinclair

Rebecca Sinclair is married to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, who is being tried at Fort Bragg, N.C., on charges including adultery and sexual misconduct. 

 

Like most Americans, I’ve been unable to escape the current news cycle regarding several high-ranking military generals entangled in sex scandals. Unlike most Americans, however, for me the topic is personal. My husband, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, is one of the officers.

Spectators will try to make this scandal about many things: the arrogance of powerful men; conniving mistresses; the silent epidemic of sexual assault in the armed services. But these explanations obscure an underlying problem: the devastating influence of an open-ended war — now in its 11th year — on the families of U.S. service members.

Gallery

Video

<caption> Ann Telnaes cartoon: Petreaus case reveals reach of nation’s surveillance programs. </caption>

Ann Telnaes cartoon: Petreaus case reveals reach of nation’s surveillance programs.

 Let me first address the elephant in the room. My husband had an affair. He violated our marriage

vows and hurt me tremendously. Jeff and I are working on our marriage, but that’s our business.

Jeff also needs to answer to the Army. That is his business, not mine, and he accepts that. I believe in and support him as much as ever.
I wish I could say that my husband was the only officer or soldier who has been unfaithful. Since 2001, the stress of war has led many service members to engage in tremendously self-destructive behavior. The officer corps is plagued by leaders abandoning their families and forging new beginnings with other men and women. And many wives know about their husbands’ infidelity but stay silent.
For military wives, the options are bad and worse. Stay with an unfaithful husband and keep your family intact; or lose your husband, your family and the financial security that comes with a military salary, pension, health care and housing. Because we move so often, spouses lose years of career advancement. Some of us spend every other year as single parents. We are vulnerable emotionally and financially. Many stay silent out of necessity, not natural passivity.
In many ways, ours is a typical military story. Jeff and I married 27 years ago. While he rose through the officer corps, I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and taught at community colleges in the places where we were stationed. We later had children.
Since 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have destabilized our life. We have moved six times in 11 years. On average, our kids change schools every two years. Between five deployments, site surveys and training operations, Jeff has spent more than six of the past 10 years away from his family.
None of this is meant to excuse infidelity. I expected more of Jeff, and I think he expected more of himself. But we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize the larger reality. My friends who are married to other combat leaders have been my anchor during this crisis. We understand that our soldiers may come home disfigured or injured in such a way that we will become lifelong caregivers. We also understand that they may not come home at all, and if blessed with a reunion, they may carry emotional baggage few could understand. My friends know that it could have been their heartbreak as much as mine. This is the only time in U.S. history that our nation has fought a decade-long war with a volunteer Army. Doing so has consequences. Nothing good can come of families being chronically separated for a decade or more.
Jeff’s case has its own complications. He was involved with a woman who confessed to a superior officer. As a servicewoman, she stood to be charged with criminal conduct under the military code of justice. She alleged sexual assault, and no such allegation should ever go unanswered. We are confident that the charges will be dropped. Hundreds of text messages and journal entries came to light in pretrial hearings last week that establish the affair was consensual. The woman in question admitted under oath that she never intended to have Jeff charged, and Jeff has passed a polygraph test. Ironically, if Jeff had decided to leave his family he would be in the clear.
There are many accusations against Jeff, some of which have already fallen apart. Jeff has been charged with possessing alcohol in a combat zone; a visiting dignitary gave him a bottle of Scotch that remained unopened on a bookshelf. 
 His personal computer was used to access pornography; time stamps and Army records show that he was out of the country or city when most of the files were downloaded. We expect those charges, too, to be dismissed.
But the damage has been done. It will take years for Jeff to shed the false image of a hard-drinking, porn-dependent aggressor. The other generals will also struggle to rehabilitate reputations they spent decades building. All of these men are human beings, with strengths and fallibilities, and they have families who are under real strain. How we address this strain will say much about what kind of country we are; it will also determine how stable and strong our military is.
Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Coast Guard Cadets Under Investigation For Sexual Misconduct

New London — A cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) is accused of breaking into a dorm room and sexually abusing another cadet.

An Academy spokesman said the alleged incident occurred in mid-September in the Chase Hall barracks.

The accused cadet is suspected of violating Articles 120, 130 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the military’s criminal code, which prohibit abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry. The charges were preferred, or formally initiated, and then served to the accused on Monday, February 3, 2014. (See below for specific elements of the offenses.)

A military attorney, or judge advocate general, will now conduct an Article 32 investigation to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial.

The Academy would not identify the gender of either cadet involved. Capt. Eric C. Jones, the academy’s assistant superintendent, said that while Article 120 includes rape, in this case, “the alleged offense is not rape.”

The academy is sending the accused off campus to work at another Coast Guard unit while the process moves forward, Jones said in an interview Tuesday, February 4. The alleged victim is taking classes and using the support services on campus.

Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, the academy superintendent, decided to proceed with the Article 32 investigation, Jones said.

This type of investigation has often been compared to grand jury proceedings in the civilian judicial system since both are concerned with determining whether there is sufficient probable cause to believe a crime was committed and whether the person accused of the crime committed it. The military investigation, however, is broader in scope and more protective of the accused.

Jones did not release the names of the cadets or many details about the alleged incident, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing. The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) conducted the initial investigation.

Jones added that the Academy is concerned with protecting the rights of the victim and the accused and ensuring the legal process is fair.

“I ask everyone to be patient and not to engage in supposition and rumors,” he said. “As soon as it gets to the point where it’s appropriate to release information directly to the public about the case, we’ll be ready to do that.” An Article 32 hearing is a public hearing.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the Coast Guard Academy was tried on sexual assault charges in 2006. Webster M. Smith was convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent-assault charges and acquitted of rape.

(The Webster Smith Case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is fully documented in a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and a Lady” available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021 )

The Article 32 investigating officer (IO) in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial. Stosz, as the convening authority, will decide which path to take.

Jones said he is hoping for a decision within one to three months, but there are legal processes that could extend that timeline. (By Jennifer McDermott)

j.mcdermott@theday.com

(CGA cadet accused of sexually abusing another cadet,McDermott J.,The Day, Military News, Feb 05, 2014) 

(ADDITIONAL EXPLANATORY INFORMATION)

Note: As part of the FY 2006 Military Authorization Act, Congress amended Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), effective for offenses occurring on and after October 1, 2007. Article 120 was formerly known as “Rape and carnal knowledge,” but is now entitled “Rape, sexual assault, and other sexual misconduct.”

The new Article 120 creates 36 offenses. These 36 offenses replace those offenses under the former Article 120 and others that used to be MCM offenses under Article 134 (the “General” Article).

The new Article 120 replaces the following Article 134 offenses:

The UCMJ change also amends two Article 134 offenses:

(1) Indecent language communicated to another – other than when communicated in the presence of a child – remains punishable under Article 134. If the language was communicated in the presence of a child, then it is an Article 120 offense.

(2) Pandering (having someone commit an act of prostitution) is still an offense under Article 134, but if the pandering is “compelled,” it becomes an Article 120 offense.

ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENSE

Rape

By using force: That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act by using force against that other person.

By causing grievous bodily harm: That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act by causing grievous bodily harm to any person.

By using threats or placing in fear: That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping.

By rendering another unconscious: That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act by rendering that other person unconscious.

By administration of drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance:

      (i) That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act by administering to that other person a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance;
      (ii) That the accused administered the drug, intoxicant or other similar substance by force or threat of force or without the knowledge or permission of that other person; and
      (iii) That, as a result, that other person’s ability to appraise or control conduct was substantially impaired.

Aggravated sexual assault

By using threats or placing in fear:

      (i) That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act; and
    (ii) That the accused did so by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person would be subjected to bodily harm or other harm (other than by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person would be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping).

By causing bodily harm:

      (i) That the accused caused another person, who is of any age, to engage in a sexual act; and
    (ii) That the accused did so by causing bodily harm to another person.

Upon a person substantially incapacitated or substantially incapable of appraising the act, declining participation, or communicating unwillingness:

      (i) That the accused engaged in a sexual act with another person, who is of any age; and (Note: add one of the following elements)
      (ii) That the other person was substantially incapacitated;
      (iii) That the other person was substantially incapable of appraising the nature of the sexual act;
      (iv) That the other person was substantially incapable of declining participation in the sexual act; or
      (v) That the other person was substantially incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in the sexual act.

Aggravated sexual contact

By using force:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by using force against that other person.

By causing grievous bodily harm:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by causing grievous bodily harm to any person.

By using threats or placing in fear:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping.

By rendering another unconscious:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by rendering that other person unconscious.

By administration of drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
      (iii) (a) That the accused did so by administering to that other person a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance;
      (b) That the accused administered the drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance by force or threat of force or without the knowledge or permission of that other person; and
      (c) That, as a result, that other person’s ability to appraise or control conduct was substantially impaired.

Abusive sexual contact

By using threats or placing in fear:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person would be subjected to bodily harm or other harm (other than by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person would be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping).

By causing bodily harm:

      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and
    (iii) That the accused did so by causing bodily harm to another person.
      (i) That the accused engaged in sexual contact with another person; or
      (ii) That the accused caused sexual contact with or by another person; and (Note: add one of the following elements)
      (iii) That the other person was substantially incapacitated;
      (iv) That the other person was substantially incapable of appraising the nature of the sexual contact;
      (v) That the other person was substantially incapable of declining participation in the sexual contact; or
      (vi) That the other person was substantially incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in the sexual contact.

Wrongful sexual contact

      (a) That the accused had sexual contact with another person;
      (b) That the accused did so without that other person’s permission; and
      (c) That the accused had no legal justification or lawful authorization for that sexual contact.

Upon a person substantially incapacitated or substantially incapable of appraising the act, declining participation, or communicating unwillingness:

Indecent act

      (a) That the accused engaged in certain conduct; and
    (b) That the conduct was indecent conduct.

Indecent exposure

      (a) That the accused exposed his or her genitalia, anus, buttocks, or female areola or nipple;
      (b) That the accused’s exposure was in an indecent manner;
      (c) That the exposure occurred in a place where the conduct involved could reasonably be expected to be viewed by people other than the accused’s family or household; and
    (d) That the exposure was intentional.

Aggravated sexual abuse of a child

      (a) That the accused engaged in a lewd act; and
    (b) That the act was committed with a child who has not attained the age of 16 years.

Forcible pandering

      (a) That the accused compelled a certain person to engage in an act of prostitution; and
    (b) That the accused directed another person to said person, who then engaged in an act of prostitution.

Note: If the act of prostitution was not compelled, but “the accused induced, enticed, or procured a certain person to engage in an act of sexual intercourse for hire and reward with a person to be directed to said person by the accused,” see Article 134.

DEFINITIONS

Sexual act. The term ‘sexual act’ means —

(A) contact between the penis and the vulva, and for purposes of this subparagraph contact involving the penis occurs upon penetration, however slight; or

(B) the penetration, however slight, of the genital opening of another by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Sexual contact. The term ‘sexual contact’ means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of another person, or intentionally causing another person to touch, either directly or through the clothing, the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Grievous bodily harm. The term ‘grievous bodily harm’ means serious bodily injury. It includes fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damage to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries. It does not include minor injuries such as a black eye or a bloody nose. It is the same level of injury as in Article 128, and a lesser degree of injury than in section 2246(4) of title 18.

Dangerous weapon or object. The term ‘dangerous weapon or object’ means —

(A) any firearm, loaded or not, and whether operable or not;

(B) any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, that in the manner it is used, or is intended to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or grievous bodily harm; or

(C) any object fashioned or utilized in such a manner as to lead the victim under the circumstances to reasonably believe it to be capable of producing death or grievous bodily harm.

Force. The term ‘force’ means action to compel submission of another or to overcome or prevent another’s resistance by —

(A) the use or display of a dangerous weapon or object;

(B) the suggestion of possession of a dangerous weapon or object that is used in a manner to cause another to believe it is a dangerous weapon or object; or

(C) physical violence, strength, power, or restraint applied to another person, sufficient that the other person could not avoid or escape the sexual conduct.

Threatening or placing that other person in fear.The term ‘threatening or placing that other person in fear’ for the charge of ‘rape’ or the charge of ‘aggravated sexual contact’ means a communication or action that is of sufficient consequence to cause a reasonable fear that non-compliance will result in the victim or another person being subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping.

Threatening or placing that other person in fear. In general. The term ‘threatening or placing that other person in fear’ for the charge of ‘aggravated sexual assault, or the charge of ‘abusive sexual contact’ means a communication or action that is of sufficient consequence to cause a reasonable fear that noncompliance will result in the victim or another being subjected to a lesser degree of harm than death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping.

Inclusions. Such lesser degree of harm includes —

      (i) physical injury to another person or to another person’s property; or
      (ii) a threat —
      (I) to accuse any person of a crime;
      (II) to expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule; or
    (III) through the use or abuse of military position, rank, or authority, to affect or threaten to affect, either positively or negatively, the military career of some person.

Bodily harm. The term ‘bodily harm’ means any offensive touching of another, however slight.

Child. The term ‘child’ means any person who has not attained the age of 16 years.

Lewd act. The term ‘lewd act’ means —

(A) the intentional touching, not through the clothing, of the genitalia of another person, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, or degrade any person, or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; or

(B) intentionally causing another person to touch, not through the clothing, the genitalia of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate or degrade any person, or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Indecent liberty. The term ‘indecent liberty’ means indecent conduct, but physical contact is not required. It includes one who with the requisite intent exposes one’s genitalia, anus, buttocks, or female areola or nipple to a child. An indecent liberty may consist of communication of indecent language as long as the communication is made in the physical presence of the child. If words designed to excite sexual desire are spoken to a child, or a child is exposed to or involved in sexual conduct, it is an indecent liberty; the child’s consent is not relevant.

Indecent conduct. The term ‘indecent conduct’ means that form of immorality relating to sexual impurity which is grossly vulgar, obscene, and repugnant to common propriety, and tends to excite sexual desire or deprave morals with respect to sexual relations. Indecent conduct includes observing, or making a videotape, photograph, motion picture, print, negative, slide, or other mechanically, electronically, or chemically reproduced visual material, without another person’s consent, and contrary to that other person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, of —

(A) that other person’s genitalia, anus, or buttocks, or (if that other person is female) that person’s areola or nipple; or

(B) that other person while that other person is engaged in a sexual act, sodomy (under Article 125 ), or sexual contact.

Act of prostitution. The term ‘act of prostitution’ means a sexual act, sexual contact, or lewd act for the purpose of receiving money or other compensation.

Consent. The term ‘consent’ means words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the accused’s use of force, threat of force, or placing another person in fear does not constitute consent. A current or previous dating relationship by itself or the manner of dress of the person involved with the accused in the sexual conduct at issue shall not constitute consent. A person cannot consent to sexual activity if —

(A) under 16 years of age; or

(B) substantially incapable of —

(i) appraising the nature of the sexual conduct at issue due to —

(I) mental impairment or unconsciousness resulting from consumption of alcohol, drugs, a similar substance, or otherwise; or

(II) mental disease or defect which renders the person unable to understand the nature of the sexual conduct at issue;

(ii) physically declining participation in the sexual conduct at issue; or

(iii) physically communicating unwillingness to engage in the sexual conduct at issue.

Mistake of fact as to consent. The term ‘mistake of fact as to consent’ means the accused held, as a result of ignorance or mistake, an incorrect belief that the other person engaging in the sexual conduct consented. The ignorance or mistake must have existed in the mind of the accused and must have been reasonable under all the circumstances. To be reasonable the ignorance or mistake must have been based on information, or lack of it, which would indicate to a reasonable person that the other person consented. Additionally, the ignorance or mistake cannot be based on the negligent failure to discover the true facts. Negligence is the absence of due care. Due care is what a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances. The accused’s state of intoxication, if any, at the time of the offense is not relevant to mistake of fact. A mistaken belief that the other person consented must be that which a reasonably careful, ordinary, prudent, sober adult would have had under the circumstances at the time of the offense.

MAXIMUM PUNISHMENTS

Rape and Rape of a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, death or confinement for Life, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 30 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 20 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 20 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Contact:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 20 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Contact with a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 20 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Abusive Sexual Contact with a Child:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 15 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Indecent Liberty with a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 15 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Abusive Sexual Contact: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 7 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Indecent Act: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 5 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Forcible Pandering:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 5 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Wrongful Sexual Contact:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 1 yr, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Indecent Exposure: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 1 yr, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Article 130—Housebreaking

Text.

“Any person subject to this chapter who unlawfully enters the building or structure of another with intent to commit a criminal offense therein is guilty of housebreaking and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Elements.

(1) That the accused unlawfully entered a certain building or structure of a certain other person; and

(2) That the unlawful entry was made with the intent to commit a criminal offense therein.

Explanation.

(1) Scope of offense. The offense of housebreaking is broader than burglary in that the place entered is not required to be a dwelling house; it is not necessary that the place be occupied; it is not essential that there be a breaking; the entry may be either in the night or in the daytime; and the intent need not be to commit one of the offenses made punishable under Articles 118 through 128.

(2) Intent. The intent to commit some criminal offense is an essential element of housebreaking and must be alleged and proved to support a conviction of this offense. If, after the entry the accused committed a criminal offense inside the building or structure, it may be inferred that the accused in-tended to commit that offense at the time of the entry.

(3) Criminal offense. Any act or omission which is punishable by courts-martial, except an act or omission constituting a purely military offense, is a “criminal offense.”

(4) Building, structure. “Building” includes a room, shop, store, office, or apartment in a building. “Structure” refers only to those structures which are in the nature of a building or dwelling. Examples of these structures are a stateroom, hold, or other compartment of a vessel, an inhabitable trailer, an in-closed truck or freight car, a tent, and a houseboat. It is not necessary that the building or structure be in use at the time of the entry.

(5) Entry. See paragraph 55c(3).

(6) Separate offense. If the evidence warrants, the intended offense in the housebreaking specification may be separately charged.

Lesser included offenses.

(1) Article 134—unlawful entry

(2) Article 80—attempts

Maximum punishment. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.

UCMJ Article 134—General article

“Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.”

Elements.

The proof required for conviction of an offense under Article 134 depends upon the nature of the misconduct charged. If the conduct is punished as a crime or offense not capital, the proof must establish every element of the crime or offense as required by the applicable law. If the conduct is punished as a disorder or neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, then the following proof is required:

    (1) That the accused did or failed to do certain acts; and
    (2) That, under the circumstances, the accused’s conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Explanation.

(1) In general. Article 134 makes punishable acts in three categories of offenses not specifically covered in any other article of the code. These are referred to as “clauses 1, 2, and 3” of Article 134. Clause 1 offenses involve disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces. Clause 2 offenses involve conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces. Clause 3 offenses involve noncapital crimes or offenses which violate Federal law including law made applicable through the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act, see subsection (4) below. If any conduct of this nature is specifically made punishable by another article of the code, it must be charged as a violation of that article. See subparagraph (5)(a) below. How-ever, see paragraph 59c for offenses committed by commissioned officers, cadets, and midshipmen.

(2) Disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces (clause 1).

      (a)

To the prejudice of good order and discipline

      . “To the prejudice of good order and discipline” refers only to acts directly prejudicial to good order and discipline and not to acts which are preju dicial only in a remote or indirect sense. Almost any irregular or improper act on the part of a member of the military service could be regarded as prejudicial in some indirect or remote sense; however, this article does not include these distant effects. It is con-fined to cases in which the prejudice is reasonably direct and palpable. An act in violation of a local civil law or of a foreign law may be punished if it constitutes a disorder or neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces. However,

see R.C.M. 203

    concerning subject-matter jurisdiction.
      (b)

Breach of custom of the service

      . A breach of a custom of the service may result in a violation of clause 1 of Article 134. In its legal sense, “custom” means more than a method of procedure or a mode of conduct or behavior which is merely of frequent or usual occurrence. Custom arises out of long established practices which by common usage have attained the force of law in the military or other community affected by them. No custom may be contrary to existing law or regulation. A custom which has not been adopted by existing statute or regulation ceases to exist when its observance has been generally abandoned. Many customs of the service are now set forth in regulations of the vari ous armed forces. Violations of these customs should be charged under Article 92 as violations of the regulations in which they appear if the regulation is punitive.

See

    paragraph 16c.

(3) Conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces (clause 2). “Discredit” means to injure the reputation of. This clause of Article 134 makes punishable conduct which has a tendency to bring the service into disrepute or which tends to lower it in public esteem. Acts in violation of a local civil law or a foreign law may be punished if they are of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces. However, see R.C.M. 203 concerning subject-matter jurisdiction.

(4) Crimes and offenses not capital (clause 3).

      (a)

In general

      . State and foreign laws are not included within the crimes and offenses not capital referred to in this clause of Article 134 and violations thereof may not be prosecuted as such except when State law becomes Federal law of local application under

section 13 of title 18 of the United States Code

      (Federal Assimilative Crimes Act—

see

    subparagraph (4) (c) below). For the purpose of court-martial jurisdiction, the laws which may be applied under clause 3 of Article 134 are divided into two groups: crimes and offenses of unlimited application (crimes which are punishable regardless where they may be committed), and crimes and offenses of local application (crimes which are punishable only if committed in a reas of federal jurisdiction).

(b) Crimes and offenses of unlimited application. Certain noncapital crimes and offenses prohibited by the United States Code are made applicable under clause 3 of Article 134 to all persons subject to the code regardless where the wrongful act or omission occurred. Examples include: counterfeiting ( 18 U.S.C. § 471), and various frauds against the Government not covered by Article 132.

(c) Crimes and offenses of local application.

      (i)

In general

    . A person subject to the code may not be punished under clause 3 of Article 134 for an offense that occurred in a place where the law in question did not apply. For example, a person may not be punished under clause 3 of Article 134 when the act occurred in a foreign country merely because that act would have been an offense under the United States Code had the act occurred in the United States. Regardless where committed, such an act might be punishable under clauses 1 or 2 of Article 134. There are two types of congressional enactments of local application: specific federal statutes (defining particular crimes), and a general federal statute, the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act (which adopts certain state criminal laws).

(5) Limitations on Article 134.

      (a)

Preemption doctrine

      . The preemption doc-trine prohibits application of Article 134 to conduct covered by Articles 80 through 132. For example, larceny is covered in

Article 121

    , and if an element of that offense is lacking—for example, intent— there can be no larceny or larceny-type offense, either under Article 121 or, because of preemption, under Article 134. Article 134 cannot be used to create a new kind of larceny offense, one without the required intent, where Congress has already set the minimum requirements for such an offense in Article 121.

(b) Capital offense. A capital offense may not be tried under Article 134.

Above Information from Manual for Court Martial.

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Expert on Gender and Violence To The Rescue

The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Ac...

The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christopher Kilmartin, a professor from Virginia will spend the upcoming academic
year teaching courses on gender at the (USAFA) Air Force Academy to combat
sexual assaults
.

He is a psychology instructor at
the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., and will serve as
a visiting professor at USAFA, teaching “Men and Masculinity” in
the fall and “Interpersonal Violence” in the spring.

Neither
course is required of students. But so many have registered for the lone
section of “Men and Masculinity” that the academy is considering adding
another, said Col. Gary Packard, head of the academy’s Department of
Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.

“When I looked at his
background, he became my No. 1 candidate” for the department’s visiting
professor position, Packard said. “We need him here to deal with these
issues, especially those related to masculinity.”

Kilmartin will conduct research and consult with leaders during his time at the academy, Packard said.

Kilmartin
has previously worked with the U.S. Naval Academy to revise its sexual
assault and harassment prevention curriculum. He also wrote a script for
an Army
training film on the same topic.

His knowledge of military culture “gives him credibility right from the start,” Packard said.

Another trait Packard says will serve Kilmartin well at the academy: his sense of humor.

Kilmartin is also a stand-up comedian.

“I
think the cadets will gravitate toward him,” Packard said. “More
importantly, I think commanders and leadership will connect with him as
well.”

During Kilmartin’s two-plus decades of teaching courses on masculinity, the majority of his students have been females.

That’s less likely to be the case at the academy, where the majority of students are male.

“One
of the biggest struggles in teaching that area is getting men into the
room,” said Kilmartin, the author of the textbook “The Masculine Self.”

“The
way gender roles are constructed, a lot of men don’t feel comfortable
expressing interest in it. It takes a pretty self-aware man to get
interested in gender.”

Kilmartin’s fall class will examine how
masculinity is constructed, how men are socialized and how individuals
form gender ideology.

“There’s a lot of theory in the first part”
of the class, he said. “The second part includes discussion of men’s
issues: work, mental health, physical health, relationships, sexuality,
violence, and contemporary topics like the prison problem, pornography
and prostitution.”

As part of their coursework, Kilmartin will
assign his students to journal about gender stereotypes they observe in
their everyday lives.

“It’s a really powerful assignment, he said.
“By mid-semester, they realize it’s everywhere. Then they get mad at me
because they think they can’t watch TV anymore.

“Before, they
tend to look at things uncritically. When they get a new pair of lenses
to look at the world,
it can be annoying. You can pay a price for it,
but it can be of enormous benefit as well.”

His spring class will
offer an opportunity to examine violence committed by males, a topic
that is often overlooked because “people in dominate groups have the
luxury of having their identity remain invisible,” Kilmartin said.

It will also examine the origins and consequences of, and remedies to, interpersonal violence, he added.

Kilmartin’s
short-term goal is to increase sexual assault reporting rates at the
academy so that perpetrators, most of whom are serial offenders, are
stopped, he said.

“I’m not going to come in there and do magic,
but I’d like to do something,” he said. “Sometimes we forget that these
are young adults
, that many of them don’t have a lot of experience with
relationships and sexuality. We forget that because we put them in
uniform and they look like these machines and we think they have it all
together. But they’re kids in some ways. We need to talk with them like
kids.”

His ultimate goal is to “take a public health approach and
reduce the incidence of sex assault at the academy and the military at
large
.”

Arming cadets with knowledge on the topics of gender and violence isn’t just the right thing to do, he said.

It’s good for their careers.

“We
wouldn’t dream of sending leaders out into the world without computer
skills, management skills, leadership abilities,” he said. “There is no
way any commander is going to get out in the world and not have to deal
with people in his or her command who are women, who are gay men,
lesbians, maybe even someone transgendered.

“If you don’t
understand these different forms of identity and how they play out in
your organization, you’re just not going to be a good commander.”

During
the 2011-2012 academic year, sex assault reports involving Air Force
Academy cadets increased by about 50 percent over the previous academic
year,
accounting for the majority of reported assaults across the
nation’s three military academies
, according to a Defense Department
report released late last year. (NOTE: West Point, Annapolis, and AFA at Colorado Springs are not the only military academies in the U.S.. There is a Coast Guard Academy at New London, CT..)

Cadets have attended annual sexual
assault prevention training since 2005. An increase in reporting rates
is a sign that those training sessions are working, victim advocate at
the academy told The Gazette in January. (By Erin Prater)

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honor, Deception and Betrayal. How Air Force Cadets Are Used As Informants, Then Betrayed and Expelled.

 

Honor and Deception
A secretive Air Force program recruits Academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward.

Facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students.

Cadets who attend the publicly-funded academy near Colorado Springs must pledge never to lie. But the program pushes some to do just that: Informants are told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports.

(Coast Guard Academy Cadet London Steverson in 1966 on a Summer Exchange Program with the Air Force Academy)

It was a great honor for me to spend the Summer of 1966 training with the cadets from the United States Air Force Academy. They were highly motivated and very disciplined. I made one of the best friends I have had in my life while visiting the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was Cadet Kenneth Little from Washington, D.C.

                                                                                                                   (Former Air Force Academy Cadet Kenneth Little.)

None of the service academies had started to admit female cadets in the 1960s. The male cadets were gung ho and macho. Drugs and binge drinking were not yet a part of the academy culture. I am fairly certain that there was no program of confidential cadet informants at that time. It is highly repugnant to use cadets in such a way. It betrays everything that we stood for as cadets and future officers.
For one former academy student, becoming a covert government operative meant not only betraying the values he vowed to uphold, it meant being thrown out of the academy as punishment for doing the things the Air Force secretly told him to do.

eric in p coat

“It was like a spy movie. I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore.” – Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas, 24, was a confidential informant for the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI — a law enforcement branch of the Air Force. OSI ordered Thomas to infiltrate academy cliques, wearing recorders, setting up drug buys, tailing suspected rapists and feeding information back to OSI. In pursuit of cases, he was regularly directed by agents to break academy rules.

“It was exciting. And it was effective,” said Thomas, a soccer and football player who received no compensation for his informant work. “We got 15 convictions of drugs, two convictions of sexual assault. We were making a difference. It was motivating, especially with the sexual assaults. You could see the victims have a sense of peace.”

Through it all, he thought OSI would have his back. But when an operation went wrong, he said, his handlers cut communication and disavowed knowledge of his actions, and watched as he was kicked out of the academy.

“It was like a spy movie,” said Thomas, who was expelled in April, a month before graduation. “I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore.”

The Air Force’s top commander and key members of the academy’s civilian oversight board claim they have no knowledge of the OSI program. The Gazette confirmed the program, which has not been reported in the media through interviews with multiple informants, phone and text records, former OSI agents, court filings and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The records show OSI uses FBI-style tactics to create informants. Agents interrogate cadets for hours without offering access to a lawyer, threaten them with prosecution, then coerce them into helping OSI in exchange for promises of leniency they don’t always keep. OSI then uses informants to infiltrate insular cadet groups, sometimes encouraging them to break rules to do so. When finished with informants, OSI takes steps to hide their existence, directing cadets to delete emails and messages, misleading Air Force commanders and Congress, and withholding documents they are required to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The program also appears to rely disproportionately on minority cadets like Thomas.

“Their behavior in (Thomas’s) case goes beyond merely disappointing, and borders on despicable,” Skip Morgan, a former OSI lawyer who headed the law department at the Academy, said in a letter to the Superintendent of the Academy in April. Morgan is now Thomas’s lawyer. The Superintendent did not reply.

The Air Force also has not replied to a letter sent by Thomas’ senator, John Thune of South Dakota, in September asking officials to meet with Thomas.

While the informant program has resulted in prosecutions, it also creates a fundamental rift between the culture of honesty and trust the academy drills into cadets and another one of duplicity and betrayal that the Air Force clandestinely deploys to root out misconduct.

The Gazette identified four informants. Three agreed to speak about their experience with OSI. All had been told they were the only informant on campus, but eventually learned of more, including each other. Because of the secretive nature of the program, The Gazette was unable to determine its scope, but the informants interviewed by The Gazette said they suspect the campus of 4,400 cadets has dozens.

“It’s contradictory to everything the academy is trying to do,” said one of the informants, Vianca Torres. “They say we are one big family, and to trust each other, then they make you lie to everyone.”

Academy commanders declined multiple requests for interviews. OSI also declined requests for comment, saying in a statement it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the program.

Gen. Mark Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the service’s top officer and only commander with authority over both the academy and OSI, said he was unfamiliar with the cadet informant system.

“I don’t know a thing about it,” he said in an interview in October.

Members of the academy’s civilian oversight board, which includes members of Congress, also said they had not heard of the program.

Records show, for a time, Thomas was at the center of it. He worked major operations that netted high-profile prosecutions. OSI documents said he was “very reliable” and “provided OSI with ample amounts of vital information.”

Legal experts say informants are useful and commonly employed in fighting crime. But informants on college campuses are exceedingly rare, and other experts warn they have a corrosive effect on individuals and institutions.

It changes everyone’s relationship to the whole institution because it erodes the moral authority of the law,” said Loyola University professor Alexandra Natapoff, who studies informants and the law. “There are rules — unless you snitch. People begin to question the fairness of the system. And it sets cadets against their fellow cadets. It can really change their lives, sometimes in ways that can be very harmful.”

The three informants who spoke to The Gazette said the system needs reform.

“I hate it,” said a third cadet who said he became an informant in 2011. The cadet, who graduated in May and is now an officer, did not want to be identified because he feared retribution by the Air Force. He said being an informant was the worst thing he has ever done. “It puts you in a horrible situation: Lying, turning on other cadets. I felt like a rat. OSI says they will offer you protection, have your back. Then they don’t. Look what happened to Eric.”

Integrity first

Thomas said his life as an informant started after an off-campus cadet party in 2010.

The Air Force Academy is hardly known as a party school. Incoming cadets face a barrage of rules. For the first several months, they can’t wear civilian clothes or even civilian eyeglasses. They must run at attention to class and sit at attention at meals, setting forks down before chewing each bite seven times. They live in dorms where TVs, microwaves, and even unauthorized pillows are forbidden until senior year. These long-held traditions, used at all military academies, are designed to strip students of former identities and instill the collective identity of the Air Force.

Cadets at the Air Force Academy must meet rigorous standards. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Any slip-up earns a cadet punishment and demerits. A cadet who amasses 200 demerits gets expelled. Any illegal drug use is grounds for immediate dismissal. About 70 cadets each year are kicked out.

Cadets are made to repeat the core values of the Air Force: “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.”

They pledge to an honor code: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” Telling a lie can get a cadet expelled. Even telling misleading truths, known as “quibbling,” can land a cadet in hot water.

The idea is to forge the integrity future officers need.

Even so, some cadets throw illegal parties off base, usually at houses rented for the weekend by a third party.

In fall 2010, Thomas, a sophomore, went to a house party near Divide. It was a typical college bash, he said, with pounding music, beer and cadets on the back porch smoking pot and a synthetic marijuana called spice.

The party was busted by civilian police. About two weeks later, the then 21-year-old said he was ordered to report to OSI for questioning.

OSI, formed in 1948, has about 2,300 personnel at bases around the globe who investigate terrorism threats, espionage, fraud, and other major crimes. Its motto is “eyes of the eagle.” Agents wear no rank or uniform. They answer not to the commanders where they are based, but to a central OSI office near Washington, D.C.

The Academy has about 12 agents, but cadets say few students know OSI exists.

Thomas, left, began informing on other cadets, including close friends.

An OSI agent named Mike Munson brought Thomas into a small interrogation room with a one-way mirror and a microphone, Thomas said. Munson did not respond to The Gazette’s email requests for an interview.

Thomas said he wasn’t nervous. He was a straight-laced athlete from a strict home who had never done drugs and drank very little. The agent told him he was there only as a witness. He wanted to know who did what at the party. At first, Thomas gave vague answers, but Munson pressed harder, Thomas said, grilling the cadet for more than three hours: OSI had witnesses. They had proof Thomas knew more than he was saying. It was the cadet’s duty to tell the truth. Under the honor code, not turning in spice smokers was the same as smoking spice.

The academy teaches cadets not to question superiors, Thomas said. When OSI asked him to do things, he thought he had little choice.

“Eventually I told them everything I knew,” Thomas said.

Thomas’s experience mirrors that of Vianca Torres. At age 20, when she was a junior, she said, OSI called her in as a potential witness because she had gone to a party where other women had reported being sexually assaulted. OSI interrogated her for six hours, she said, grilling her not only about the assaults but about drug use and other crimes among her friends going back years. At first the cadet with a clean record said she resisted, but they pressed harder.

“They called me a disgrace to my country. They called me a disgrace to my family,” she said.

Sobbing, she said, she eventually told on friends and admitted to smoking spice two years before.

Vianca Torres

OSI charged her for the crime, then promised to make the charge go away if she became an informant. She worked for OSI for 10 months, she said. OSI tried to plant a video camera in her alarm clock to bust a friend, she said.

She balked at the camera, she said, but did everything else OSI asked. Even so, she was kicked out in November, 2012 for her admission of drug use years before.

Before she was expelled, Torres said, OSI ordered her to delete all texts and emails showing the existence of her handler. In retrospect, she said, OSI just dragged out her dismissal so she could do more work as an informant.

You just get used,” said Torres. “OSI gets what they want and kicks you to the curb.”

OSI has used similar informant programs at other bases for decades. But at the Academy it has been using cadet informants for about 10 years, documents show.

“You just get used.

OSI gets what they want

and kicks you to the curb.” -Vianca Torres

Top leadership in the late 1990s told The Gazette they were not aware of an informant program. Then in 2001,  the academy was rocked by high profile cases of drug use that resulted in Congressional investigations. That year an OSI officer named Keith Givens, who is now vice commander of OSI, wrote in the Air Force’s official legal journal, The Reporter, that the Air Force should use “a web of undercover agents and informants to detect drug abuse.” In 2003 the academy was hit by more scandals over drugs and sexual assaults that resulted in the removal of top brass. By 2004, court documents show, OSI was recruiting cadets as informants. Documents show that at least some academy leaders have knowledge of the program, but it is not clear if they know who is involved and what they do.

At the end of Thomas’s interrogation, Munson told him that the Air Force wanted him to become a confidential informant.

“What would I have to do?” Thomas asked.

Just get in with everyone,” he remembers Munson saying. “Go to parties, flirt with females, be friends with everyone. That’s how you start.”

Thomas asked if it would mean breaking the cadet honor code. He said Munson told him there was no cadet honor code in this line of work.

Trust is at the heart of any honor code, said Laurie Johnson, a Kansas State University professor who specializes in ethics and honor codes. “By introducing spying I would think the cadets would believe there’s no trust,” Johnson said.

Worse, she said, if the Air Force encourages cadets to break the honor code as informants, it shows leaders have little use for the rules cadets are expected to follow.

Asked about the apparent contradiction between demanding honesty and using informants, an academy spokesman said: “A cadet has the responsibility to not only live by the honor code, but report those who don’t.”

Many people would find snitching on classmates shady, Thomas said. But he saw it differently. All cadets pledge to uphold academy rules. But some of his fellow cadets, who might someday lead the Air Force, seemed to have little respect for the pledge.

“I took that very seriously,” he said. “If we are not accountable to that standard, who is? But it was hard. You had to choose between your friends and what’s right.

What tipped the balance for Thomas was a friend who had been sexually assaulted. He said he had watched her struggle when the investigation ended in a “he said, she said” stalemate. A confidential informant might have helped.

Thomas agreed to help OSI.

Agents made him sign non-disclosure papers and told him he could be thrown in a military prison if he talked about his work. He could not even tell his commanders, they said. OSI would notify them instead. As Thomas left that life-changing meeting with OSI, he remembers the agent saying, “Wait to be contacted. And remember, don’t tell anybody.”

Thomas worked his way in with the party kids, troublemakers and other cadets OSI called “targets.” OSI gave him training on how to pass himself off as one of the “bad crowd.” He got close with football players who OSI knew were the focus of several confidential sexual assault accusations. He became tight with a guy from the sky diving team who OSI thought was selling marijuana.

Some cadets, he discovered, kept secret houses in Colorado Springs where they could store motorcycles, throw keggers, hook up with the opposite sex and do other things forbidden on base. He said he started going to house parties almost every weekend, taking photos on his phone, writing down addresses, and noting who was doing what.

“I’m not going there getting hammered, just hoping I’ll see something. I went with a specific intent,” Thomas said. “I’m blending in, not getting drunk, not flirting, just watching.”

He would call OSI to report his findings.

Then Thomas got a new handler late in 2011 and, he said, things got “much more intense.”

afa text boulder house

Thomas started getting texts several times a week from someone called “Briana”:

“Call me as soon as you can.”

“Doing an op tomorrow, call me.”

“Meet me in the bx parking lot.”

“Be sure to keep me updated.”

Briana was actually a stocky blond with a thin beard and glasses named Special Agent Brandon Enos.

Enos texted several times a week, sometimes late at night, telling the cadet to meet at a remote parking lot behind the academy’s B-52 bomber or some other secluded location, Thomas said.

Enos would be waiting in an unmarked black Dodge Durango to drive Thomas off base. OSI reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show Enos would discuss findings, plan strategy, and tell Thomas what to do next. At one point, before a planned drug buy, Thomas said, Enos pulled out a pack of cheap cigars and showed him how to roll a blunt and appear to smoke it without inhaling.

“The whole time I was like, ‘OK, I’m getting told how to roll a blunt by a federal agent; this is a different cadet experience that is not in the brochure’,” Thomas said.

Torres said Enos was also her handler.

Enos did not respond to requests for comment sent to an email address he used to communicate with Thomas.

Informing took a toll. Thomas said he often would not get back from meetings until after midnight, leaving little time to do homework. His grades dropped and he was put on academic probation. Because of the company he kept, he said he got a bad reputation.

My chain of command thought I was a dirt bag who didn’t care about the rules, when the truth was the opposite,” he said.

Worst of all, he said, was not being able to tell anyone the truth. In college, when most young adults are forging their identities, his identity was a forgery.

“I’m running in all these different cliques, trying to be different people. It’s lonely, very lonely,” he said. “You put on so many faces that after a while you forget your own.”

The effect this large-scale deception can have on the informant is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the practice, said Martin Cook, a professor of military ethics at the U.S. Naval War College, who taught for years at the academy.

“Is it appropriate for OSI to use these methods in the Air Force? Yes, I think so. It may serve a greater good,” he said. “But is it appropriate to recruit young people into this at a key time when they are trying to form their morality? That could certainly cause problems the rest of their lives. That’s a harder question.”

Thoman, Stephan Claxton and fellow cadet

OSI wanted Thomas to get in with a cadet named Stephan Claxton, Thomas said.

Four female cadets had reported being sexually assaulted by Claxton, Thomas said, but the reports were made using a confidential reporting system designed to protect victims, so the Air Force could not use them to prosecute.

Instead, they used Thomas.

The idea was to track Claxton,” said Thomas. “We know he gets drunk and does this stuff. He’s a time bomb. It’s only a matter of waiting until he does it again.”

Nov. 5, 2011, was a Saturday. That evening, Claxton went out with a bunch of friends, including a civilian woman engaged to a cadet at the academy. Thomas was not allowed to leave base that weekend, but, he said, OSI urged him to tail Claxton, so he broke the rules and tagged along.

The group went drinking in downtown Colorado Springs. What happened next is according to testimony in the court-martial that followed.

The woman got drunk and passed out in the car they were riding in. No one knew where she lived, so the cadets took her back to the academy to find her fiancé.

At about 2 a.m., Claxton, a basketball player who had been out with them, and Thomas carried her down the empty dorm hall and put her in Thomas’ bed.

A drunk female passed out in the room could get them busted, so they went to find her fiancé and have him take her home.

Unbeknownst to them, Claxton stayed behind and locked the door.

Another cadet who had been out with them returned to the room and tried the door.

“Eric, why is your door locked?” he whispered to Thomas, who had started walking down the hall.

Thomas wasn’t sure.

He went back and knocked. After about a minute, Claxton opened the door a crack and asked what they wanted, then started to close the door.

Thomas realized what might be happening and pushed his way in. They found the woman, still passed out, with her shirt up and pants undone.

A fight broke out.

Other cadets who heard the noise burst in. Some pulled Claxton off Thomas. Some carried the woman to another room. Thomas fled and called his commander from down the hall.

Claxton was charged with sexual misconduct and sentenced to six months behind bars. The other cadets, including Thomas, were punished for the other infractions, including sneaking off base and having a female in the dorm.

Thomas said he assumed he would be protected by OSI.

He wasn’t.

Air Force records show the Academy’s vice commandant knew of Thomas’ OSI involvement and ordered a special hearing officer to privately review the case, saying the normal discipline process was “not the right forum to discuss the more sensitive information.”

It never happened.

Thomas’ squadron commander, who Thomas said knew nothing of his involvement with OSI, recommended expulsion.

Thomas was stripped of rank and restricted to base.

Text messages obtained by The Gazette show OSI continued to direct Thomas to leave base to follow targets, even though he was restricted.

He obeyed.

When the academy found out he was leaving despite his restrictions, commanders were outraged at his contempt for the rules.

“I couldn’t tell them what was really going on. I had signed papers. I just had to stand there and take it.” -Eric Thomas

A cadet discipline board and an officer discipline board blasted him for a “history of disregarding the rules” and a “pattern of bad behavior.” The discipline boards recommended that Thomas be expelled. OSI told him not to worry, he said. They were taking care of things behind the scenes. He just had to keep his mouth shut.

“I couldn’t tell them what was really going on. I had signed papers. I just had to stand there and take it,” he said.

As punishment, the academy gave Thomas 309 demerits — more than 100 more than are required for expulsion. Commanders also ordered him to serve 186 confinements and 94 tours. Each confinement meant two hours of sitting silently in a room. Each tour meant one hour of marching with a heavy rubber rifle in a tight square in the center of campus. Thomas said he spent many weekends in dress blues marching from sunup to well past sundown.

The discipline board recommended that Thomas be expelled. OSI told him not to worry, he said. They were taking care of things behind the scenes. He just had to keep his mouth shut.

OSI targeted football players suspected of drug use, including star tailback Asher Clark. (Gazette file)

Operation Gridiron

Thomas’s work with OSI didn’t stop when he got in trouble. It intensified.

Phone records and OSI documents show he was in constant contact with OSI in the winter and spring of 2012.

OSI wired him up to record parties, he said. It had him delve into suspicions that football players got special treatment from professors, and gave him pens and lighters that were actually recording devices to take on drug buys.

He was pivotal in a major bust that made headlines and led to the expulsion of one of the football team’s star players, he said. OSI called it Operation Gridiron.

At 5 a.m. Jan. 12, 2012, academy officers swept into the dorms, banging on the doors of about 50 cadets, confiscating their phones and ordering them to get dressed, and report immediately to OSI.

It was the first phase of an operation to bust cadets using information gathered by Thomas during the previous year, Thomas said.

They had planned the operation for weeks and even made Thomas take a polygraph test to ensure his information was accurate, OSI records show.

The main target was a group of about 10 football players thought to be involved in drugs including the star tailback. OSI also brought in a handful of suspected partiers from the basketball team, soaring team and sky diving team. But most of the cadets called in had done nothing wrong and were simply there as decoys, Thomas said.

Thomas sat in the group wearing a hidden recording device.

asher clark mug

Over the next 11 hours OSI agents took cadets one by one from a waiting room to interrogation rooms, using information from Thomas to get confessions. One of them was a former fullback named Ryan Williams, Thomas said. Agents told Williams that his teammate Asher Clark, the team’s star tailback, had already told OSI that Williams had smoked spice at a party. OSI seemed to know every detail down to what he had been wearing the night of the party. Seeing he was caught, Williams confessed, then implicated Clark, Thomas said.

In fact, Clark had said nothing to OSI. The information had come from Thomas, who had been at the party.

Next, agents interrogated Clark and did the same thing. Clark confessed and implicated Williams.

Back in the waiting room, the two players started yelling and shoving one another, Thomas said, furious that they’d sold each other out.

Clark, Williams and five other cadets were kicked out or left the academy as a result of Operation Gridiron. Others were disciplined.

“My freshman roommate got wrapped up in it, too,” Thomas said. “He was caught with a house off base and almost kicked out. That really sucked, seeing a friend get in trouble and knowing I had a part in it.”

 

Terminated

Thomas testified at the court-martial of Claxton, who was convicted.

Documents show he also fed information to OSI that led to the 2013 sexual assault conviction of another cadet, linebacker Jamil Cooks.

Those were the first convictions for sexual assault at the academy since 1997,” Thomas said. “What we were doing was working.”

Cadets with as many demerits as Thomas are kicked out in a matter of weeks. But Thomas kept going to classes through the spring and summer of 2012. Officially, he was told a computer crash had delayed his expulsion. Privately, he assumed OSI was helping behind the scenes.

At the end of August 2012, Thomas’ case went to a closed hearing with the vice commandant and other leaders — the final stop on the way to expulsion.

“I will come speak on your behalf about Claxton,” his handler texted a few days before the meeting. “You need people to see the positive and not hone in on negative.”

With this assurance, Thomas arrived in dress blues at the commandant’s office, ready to finally have someone explain his work.

He looked around the room. His handler was not there.

Thomas sat down and waited.

“Are you still coming?” he texted.

The agent never showed up.

Thomas went into the hearing alone.

“I got completely destroyed in there — perceived as a cadet who doesn’t know right from wrong, with no foundation of integrity, the polar opposite of what I have tried to be,” he said. “And I could say nothing.”

The board voted unanimously to expel him.

Thomas texted and called OSI during the next few days but agents stopped responding.

In one of the last texts Thomas sent to his handler, he wrote: “Is everything OK?”

No response.

Files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show OSI “terminated” Thomas on Sept. 10, 2012, because he “no longer had access to targets.”

“He was instrumental in drug investigations and sexual assault investigations. His reward was for OSI to abandon him.” -Skip Morgan, Eric Thomas’s attorney

Thomas eventually realized he was on his own. Desperate to prove his case, he requested his case records from OSI through the Freedom of Information Act. OSI said there were no records. He requested them again and got the same response. Nine months later, after a third request from Thomas’ congressional representative, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, OSI released 86 pages detailing the cadet’s deep involvement with OSI. By that time, though, Thomas had been kicked out of the academy.

They lied to him. They lied when they said they would be there and they lied when they said there were no records,” said Skip Morgan, the former OSI lawyer who became Thomas’ attorney.

In the letter to the superintendent in April, Morgan said text records clearly show Thomas was working for OSI on the days he was being punished for sneaking off base, adding, “He was instrumental in drug investigations and sexual assault investigations. His reward was for OSI to abandon him.”

The academy did not reply.

Morgan, a retired colonel, told The Gazette that in his years representing Air Force cadets he has never seen such a case.

“This is a young man who really tried to do the right thing. It takes tremendous moral conviction. And they left him in the lurch,” he said. “They lied to him on several occasions. I thought that was shabby. I don’t care who hears that, it was shabby treatment unbecoming of a commissioned officer.”

Informants are a useful tool for the Air Force, Morgan said, but they must be treated fairly.

“If you don’t treat them fairly, you are not going to have informants. Word gets out real fast; don’t trust OSI,” he said.

The types of abuses Thomas describes are common in informant systems because there is almost no oversight, said Alexandra Natapoff, the Loyola professor, who is author of the book “Snitch: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice.”

The deals that law enforcement makes with informants lack the checks and balances of the rest of the American justice system, she said. “All kinds of things happen without public scrutiny: lying, corruption, and continued criminal behavior.”

Informants can be abused or lied to with little recourse, she said because law enforcement “holds all the cards. And in the end it’s the law of the jungle.”

Another concern, she said, is that informant programs tend to disproportionately target minorities and poor people with less access to legal defense.

The four Academy informants The Gazette identified are Black or Hispanic.

Once Thomas realized OSI had cut him loose, he started telling anyone who would listen — his squadron commander, his master sergeant, his group commander, the vice commandant of culture and climate, the deputy commander, even his mother.

His mother, Rosita Perez Walker, was furious OSI had used her son as an informant.

“These kids are so young, so naive,” she told The Gazette. “They have been trained to obey orders. They are taught how to eat, how to sit, how to walk, everything. You say jump, they jump. To expect them to have enough judgment to question federal agents?”

She called OSI’s central office in Virginia to complain.

Soon after, Thomas got a call from his OSI handler, saying he wanted to meet at the OSI office and sort things out. When Thomas arrived, he said, the handler was not there. Instead, he said, the OSI detachment commander, Lt. Col. Vasaga Tilo, took Thomas in an interrogation room and yelled at him, warning him to keep his mouth shut.

afa vasaga tilo crop

In an interview with The Gazette, Tilo refused to talk about the confidential informant program, other than to say, “We use informants in the same way any other law enforcement does.”

Thomas kept talking.

Randy Neugebauer and John Thune both ordered Congressional inquiries.

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress

He told Rep. Neugebauer. He told Sen. Thune of South Dakota. Both ordered inquiries. The Air Force responded to Neugebauer in June, saying that Thomas had worked as an informant, but not until after he got in trouble in his dorm room — a year later than Thomas claims. At no point, OSI said, was Thomas “directed or influenced in any way to break any rules.” The Air Force responded to Thune in August, saying while there were what it called “administrative errors” in Thomas’ dismissal, the academy “stands by their decision that disenrollment is both appropriate and in the best interest of the Air Force.”

Thune then sent a letter to the secretary of the Air Force and the superintendent of the academy in September, asking them to meet with Thomas. Thomas has not heard from either.

Despite OSI’s claims to a Congressman that it told Thomas to keep clean, OSI documents clearly show agents repeatedly directed Thomas to sneak off base to go after targets and buy drugs while lying to commanders to cover it up.

While his expulsion was pending, Thomas kept going to class, hoping things would work out. He was accepted to Air Force pilot school and looked forward to flying after graduation.

He was kicked out of the academy in April, six weeks before graduation.

He no longer thinks the process took so long — 16 months from when he got in trouble — because OSI was working back channels to help him. Now he thinks he was strung along so he could work longer as an informant.

On his way out of the academy, Thomas got a tacit acknowledgement of his work. Cadets expelled in their senior year typically must repay almost $180,000 for their education. Thomas does not.

“Someone did him a favor,” said his lawyer. “Someone realized what he said was true and tried to repay him to some extent.”

Betrayed

Thomas moved back in with his family in South Dakota. He has appealed to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning, saying he was wrongfully dismissed. He is waiting for a response. In the meantime, he helps disabled children, mentors the youth group at his church, and does odd jobs for neighbors.

Only about half of his academy credits will be accepted at other schools, so he may have to repeat years of college, but he can’t apply to other schools because he remains in the Air Force until the matter is settled.

“In the meantime, I’m in limbo,” he said.

Looking back at the three-year ordeal, he is angry. He is angry because he loves the Air Force and feels betrayed by how OSI treated him. And angry because he knows that OSI is probably recruiting new informants it can later toss aside. Most of all, he said, he is angry the academy is allowing it to happen by failing to create guidelines for the treatment of cadet informants and adequately tracking the system.

“It needs to change,” he said. “I am not saying people shouldn’t work for OSI. We did a lot of good work. But they need protection. They need guidelines. Someone needs to be watching this. Otherwise, look what happens.”

By Dave Philipps

dave.philipps@gazette.com

The Gazette

Gazette reporter Tom Roeder contributed to this report.

Contact Dave Philipps

dave.philipps@gazette.com

LT. GEN. Michelle General Johnson, the top general of the Air Force Academy, said Wednesday, 4 December, that the use of confidential cadet informants (CI) at the academy has ceased for the time being and vowed to oversee “any operations involving cadet confidential informants” in the future.

But many academy graduates and parents are voicing concern that the academy stands by a practice they see as corrosive to the institution’s core values of trust and honesty.

As previously stated the Air Force uses a system of cadet informants to spy on other cadets. The students are instructed to inform on classmates, professors and commanders while helping the Air Force Office of Special Investigations gather information on drug use, sexual assault and other cadet misconduct.

Honor and deception: A secretive Air Force program recruits academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward

It is unclear how many informants operate among the 4,400 cadets, but informants say their efforts have helped lead to several high-profile convictions and expulsions.

In a letter to graduates Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson defended the confidential informant program as “vital” and pledged her personal oversight.

“The CI program has rarely been used at USAFA, and when employed it is deliberate, judicious and limited to felony activity; there are no ongoing operations,” she wrote in her letter. “I will exercise oversight of any operations involving cadet confidential informants.

Air Force Academy defends use of student informants, challenges reliability of ex-cadet

“Many of you have voiced concerns regarding inconsistencies between a CI program and the Cadet Honor Code. I want you to know that the chain of command does not condone lying, cheating or any violation of the Honor Code in support of CI investigations.”

She was scheduled to address the Association of Graduates board of directors about the issue on Friday, 6 December, at their office on the academy grounds.

Some parents and graduates say the academy has not addressed the key issues surrounding the secret informant program. In various Internet forums, they noted that the academy’s statement defending the program Tuesday focused on trying to discredit Eric Thomas, one of the cadets featured by The Gazette in it’s groundbreaking expose’ of the story.

(Former Air Force Academy Cadet, Eric Thomas says he was used, abused, and abandoned.)

“They are missing the point,said a parent who did not want to be identified because he feared it could affect his cadet’s career. “They went after Thomas but never addressed the merits of the program. They are just trying to kill the messenger.”

Cadet First Class Eric Thomas was expelled this spring, weeks before graduation, for misconduct he said was incurred in the service of OSI.

The parent said larger issues need to be discussed. “And they have yet to address how it affects the cadet culture.”

He said most parents he has spoken to are concerned, and cadets are “deeply dismayed.” He added that he was not assured by Johnson’s statement that there are no “ongoing operations.”

Air Force officers, graduates of the Academy,  posting on Internet forums were generally critical of the program.

One local graduate said in a group email, which included several current and former top Air Force commanders, that the Academy’s response ducked the main controversy.

“Is USAFA, or the OSI at USAFA, asking some cadets to do things that are inherently against the principles of honor and integrity that were ingrained in us when we were at USAFA?” said the email. “We need to know what OSI did or did not do in this case. I believe this is too big to trust to the USAFA leadership.”

January 15, 2014. Now Hear This! Further developments in the USAFA scandal.

 

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are sharply criticizing a recently revealed program to recruit U.S. Air Force Academy cadets to serve as informants on other cadets suspected of drug use and sexual assault.

“I’d just like to go on the record as saying I don’t see how being an informant is compatible with living out the honor code,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican who represents the Colorado Springs congressional district where the academy is located.

“I think we need to take a hard look about whether this is appropriate for an academic institution, because after all, you are an academic institution,” said Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass. “This raises to me a lot of questions that are very hard for you to explain.”

Lamborn and Tsongas serve on the Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) Board of Visitors, a 15-member oversight board that held a special meeting Tuesday on Capitol Hill in response to the controversy. The informant program was first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette on Dec. 1.

The Gazette highlighted the case of Cadet Eric Thomas, who said he was recruited by the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations after being suspected of attending an off-campus party at which drugs were used. Thomas agreed to serve as an informant on fellow cadets, but told the paper he became increasingly uncomfortable that he was being asked to disobey academy rules in order to get closer to his targets.

STORY: Reports of sexual assault dip at military academies

When Thomas was brought up on disciplinary charges, the OSI agents disavowed the operation and Thomas was expelled, the Gazette reported.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the USAFA Superintendent, and Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, disputed that version of events Tuesday. They said Thomas already had enough demerits to be expelled before he was recruited, and that his expulsion was for disciplinary and academic reasons unrelated to his work as an informant.

STORY: Air Force Academy gets 1st female superintendent

Academy commanders also defended the informant program, saying it was used rarely and was always subject to the oversight of the academy’s top brass. While Johnson said she couldn’t imagine a situation where she would approve the use of an informant in the future, she said she couldn’t rule it out as a tool to investigate serious offenses. And she noted that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado could pose a challenge for the academy, where any drug use on or off campus is still a violation of Defense Department regulations.

Johnson said the Air Force is investigating whether Thomas’s OSI handlers acted appropriately, and a report is expected by the end of the month. She conceded that the affair had given the academy was a black eye, but said the Air Force was constrained by privacy laws from defending its actions more vociferously.

“We’ve revealed a lot here that the general counsel is not going to be comfortable with,” Johnson said. “If you want to go point counterpoint, it has to be in a public forum. I agree with a free press, but it’s not always a 100% accurate press.”

 

 

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Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The Pentagon is pushing ahead with its campaign to move women closer to the battlefield, despite a series of sex scandals involving senior officers and a report showing an increase in sexual assaults among the troops.
At the dawn of the all-volunteer military force in 1973, women accounted for less than 3 percent of active-duty and reserve members. Today, 310,000 women make up about 15 percent of the force. In and around the Afghanistan War are nearly 17,000 women in uniform.
With the influx has come increasingly close contact between men and women — and a sharp rise in sexual misconduct. Military-wide, sexual assaults are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a Pentagon report.

“The problem is getting worse. It’s not getting better,” said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. “Part of the reason is people don’t want to admit what everyone knows to be true.
“Men and women are human beings. They react to each other. The do things they are not proud of. Rank has nothing to do with it. It’s not solely a gender issue. Both sexes are involved. All ranks.”
In recent months, an Army general in Afghanistan was accused of forcing a female captain to engage in sex acts, and the Navy has fired commanding officers for sexual misconduct.
Even four-star officers are not immune. Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, is under a Pentagon investigation for an exchange of flirtatious emails with a married Florida socialite.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have pushed the sexes closer together than ever before in shared living quarters in isolated bases, as well as the close quarters of Navy ships and, now, submarines.
A Department of Veterans Affairs research panel survey found that about half of all women sent to Iraq and Afghanistan say they were sexually harassed, and 1 in 4 say they were sexually assaulted. The findings were based on surveys mailed to 1,100 women who had served in or near the two war zones, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, most recruits begin military life in sex-integrated barracks.
“The only thing the military can do is try to encourage discipline instead of indiscipline, and try to avoid the kind of hazardous situations that just make it worse,” Mrs. Donnelly said.
One of the trends Mrs. Donnelly said is making things worse is the Army’s drive to put women closer to combat and, perhaps one day, in direct land combat.
Early last year, the Army began opening 14,000 combat support jobs below the brigade level, down to smaller units close to front lines.
In a more revolutionary move, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, ordered a study to learn whether women can be assigned to direct land combat occupations as infantry and armor soldiers.

The Air Force and Navy removed most combat barriers in the 1990s. Since then, it has ballyhooed the methodical promotions of female generals and admirals to key commands.
The Army suffered through its worst known sex scandal in 1996 when 12 officers and enlisted leaders were charged with sexually abusing female trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Sixteen years later, the Air Force discovered the same type of widespread sexual abuse at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

At Lackland, all enlisted recruits undergo an 8?-week boot camp under the wing of a mostly male staff.
More than 30 female trainees complained of sexual harassment, and even in-barracks rapes, by instructors. The Air Force fired scores of instructors.

The scandal involving former Gen. David H. Petraeus, who formed a close relationship with his biographer in Afghanistan while in Army uniform and then began an extramarital affair while CIA director, has garnered the most attention.

But the military branches have suffered through much more disturbing cases of misconduct.
The Army has charged a deputy commander of its storied 82nd Airborne Division with forcing a female captain to perform oral sex. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair’s sexual relations with his subordinate went on for three years in the U.S. and on deployments to Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another former commander, Army Col. James H. Johnson III of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was convicted in June of having an affair with an Iraqi woman, aided by government cars and travel vouchers. A military judge fined him $300,000. His wife had turned him in.
Army Col. Avanulus Smiley was relieved of his command for committing adultery.
A ‘chilling trend’
Former sailors cannot remember an era when so many Navy commanding officers are being punished for improprieties with female shipmates.
Navy Times, an independent newspaper, has taken to publishing a running tally. As 2012 came to a close, the Navy had punished 40 commanding and executive officers, as well as senior enlisted personnel in command-type positions.
Several cases involved inappropriate sexual conduct. The Navy relieved Capt. Robert Martin, a ship commander, for having an affair with a fellow captain’s wife. Adultery is a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“The Martin case is the latest evidence that a small but significant number of the Navy’s best officers continue to engage in improper relationships,” Navy Times said. “At least seven other [commanding officers] have been relieved for adultery and inappropriate personal relationships since 2010.”
Not all cases are about men behaving badly.
The Navy fired Cmdr. Sheryl Tannahill as head of a Navy support center because she carried on an “unduly familiar” relationship — sometimes called fraternization — with an enlisted man.
Neal Puckett, a lawyer who specializes in defending military clients, has witnessed officers who grow so senior in rank that they think they are above the law. Mr. Puckett has taken an advisory role with the Navy in anticipation that the military will launch more sex-abuse prosecutions.
“Hubris, I think, is the word that best describes the condition,” he said. “Sometimes those very senior positions give men a greater sense of power and belief that they are indeed, and finally, masters of their own destiny. Not above reproach, but rather above scrutiny. The system promoted them to where they are, thus they are justified in all of their actions, even when they are abusing that rank and position to satisfy some of their more primitive needs.”
Sexual assaults have become such unwanted occurrences in military life that the Pentagon set up the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office. It reports that sexual assaults have increased 22 percent since 2007.
The Army has issued a report that talks of a “chilling trend” of violent sex crimes growing at a rate of 14.6 percent a year.
Army figures show that reports of such crimes have nearly doubled, from 665 in 2006 to 1,313 last year.

The storyline got worse Dec. 21, when the Defense Department released a report saying sex assaults at the three service academies increased by 23 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year. They grew to 80 cases, from 65 in 2010-2011. The alarming numbers were contained in the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.
“Sexual assault has no place in this department,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “We take care of our people on the battlefield better than anyone else.
“We must extend that same ethos of care to combating sexual assault within our ranks. We have made progress in preventing and responding to sexual assault, but we are not satisfied and recognize there is much more work to do,” she said. “Our aim is to reduce, with a goal to eliminate, the crime of sexual assault from the armed forces.”
(By Rowan Scarborough)

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Sex Assaults At Military Academies Up 60 Percent

Sex Assault Reports At Academy Up 60 Percent

Sexual assault reports at the Air Force Academy jumped nearly 60 percent during the last academic year while the prevalence of the crime remained about the same, according to a new Defense Department study.

The results, which mirror the two other service institutions — the Military Academy and the Naval Academy — signal greater victim confidence but show that efforts to reduce sexual assaults among future military leaders have been unsuccessful.

Air Force cadets made 52 sexual assault reports during the 2011-2012 year, up 58 percent from 33 in 2010-2011. They also accounted for 65 percent of the 80 reports made at all three academies, despite sim­ilar student populations.

In 44 of the 80 reports, victims said they were victimized by a fel­low cadet or midshipman, the study said. Twenty-five incidents occurred on academy grounds.

Since sex assault is one of the most under-reported crimes, the military has long relied on an anonymous survey to measure the rate of such incidents, director of the DoD Sexual Assault Preven­tion and Response Office Maj. Gen. Gary Patton said in a news conference with reporters before the release of the report Dec. 21.

Fewer than 15 percent of sexual assault victims in a college envi­ronment report the crime, accord­ing to the study. That number stands at around 11 percent at the service academies.

At the Air Force Academy, far more are making reports — about 28 percent of victims, Col. Stella Renner, vice commandant of cul­ture and climate, said in a tele­phone interview.

“While we hate to see we have sexual assaults, we are very proud we have a strong reporting cli­mate,” Renner said.

That shows cadets feel more comfortable asking for help after they are victimized and that there is increased trust in the system, she insisted.

“We’re seeing cases where vic­tims who have come forward in the past are bringing in other people they know of who may have had a situation they haven’t reported yet. Nobody’s going to tell on you. It’s private. You can start healing and moving on,” Renner said.

Reporting has been on the uptick at all three academies since 2008 and increased by 23 percent overall from the last academic year, Patton said.

“Any sexual assault is bad, and our goal is always to eliminate sexual assault,” he said. “The more we know about the incidents that do happen, the more we can help victims become survivors, [gain] insight into what’s going on” and prosecute perpetrators.

But both Patton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed concern at what they described as a persistent problem and a lack of progress in combating it.

“There is not enough progress in preventing sexual harassment and assaults,” Patton said.

In a memo, Panetta directed the institutions to find new ways to “integrate sexual assault and harassment prevention into the full spectrum of academy life and learning” and ordered them to report back March 29.

The DoD report followed a year of high-profile sex scandals in the military, from the resignation of CIA director and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus to the inves­tigation of more than two dozen military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

There was no statistical increase in incidents of sexual assault at the Air Force Academy from 2010-2011, Renner said. Sexual harass­ment decreased significantly there but remained unchanged at the Military and Naval academies, the study showed.

Victims who did not make a report indicated in the anonymous survey that they took care of the incident themselves, that they did not want anyone to know about it and did not want people gossiping about what had happened to them.

Those who chose to make a report said they needed help deal­ing with an emotional event, that they wanted to stop the offender from hurting others and that they wanted to see justice served.

Reports of sexual assaults fall into two categories: restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted reports involve law enforcement and the chain of command of the victim and the accused. Restricted reports afford victims privacy while making support services available to them.

Twenty-one of the 52 reports at the Air Force Academy were unre­stricted, Renner said.

She said the academy plans to study each of the reports. “We’ll continue to work and see if there are other things we need to consid­er. We look for trending informa­tion to see if there might be some­thing we can do from a police [change], lights, locks on doors.” Next year, the academy plans to begin bystander intervention train­ing. The training teaches cadets how to identify potentially danger­ous situations and intervene safely.

Teresa Beasley, sexual assault response coordinator at the Air Force Academy, called it “a good way ahead. I think they want to help each other,” she said of cadets. “This will give them the skills to do that.” Beasley said the academy has worked hard to raise awareness around campus. “Whenever you raise awareness, reports go up,” she said. “I consider anyone that walks in a victory.”                   (By Kristin Davis)


Air Force Times
January 7, 2013

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