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Post image for Rape: Air Force Commander Overrules, Tosses Out A Jury’s Sexual Assault Conviction

Rape: Air Force Commander Overrules, Tosses Out A Jury’s Sexual Assault Conviction

by David Badash on March 12, 2013

in Civil Rights,News

Lt General Craig A. Franklin, a U.S. Air Force Commander, has overruled and tossed out a military court jury’s decision that found Lt. Colonel James Wilkerson guilty of sexually assaulting his subordinate, a woman service member who serves in the Air Force as a physician’s assistant. The assault occurred while the victim lay sleeping.

“Franklin’s decision to set aside the verdict freed Wilkerson after four months in a South Carolina brig, erased his conviction and restored the F-16 pilot, who’d been selected for promotion, to full-duty status,” Stars and Stripes reported.

“Lt General Craig Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force based at Ramstein in Germany, exercised his discretion under the Uniform Code on Military Justice and concluded that the entire body of evidence was insufficient to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As the ‘convening authority,’ Franklin, who did not interview the victim, was not required to provide further explanation for his ruling and his disposition is final,” the Guardian UK reports:

In her testimony she says she had endured “public humiliation” and was relieved when the trial was over. She said: “The actions taken by General Franklin are shocking and disappointing. Why bother to put the investigators, prosecutors, judge, jury and me through this if one person can set justice aside, with the swipe of a pen. I am 49 years old. I’m pretty together, but if it was this hard on me, what’s in store for a young airman? I did the right thing. I was sexually assaulted, and I reported it.”

The victim said: “[And now] General Franklin has made sure that his decision cannot be changed. What really scares me is that [the perpetrator] will remain in a position of military leadership. Really? Leadership?”

On Monday night, Chuck Hagel, the new defence secretary, weighed into the case, directing a Pentagon review of the ruling to determine whether changes are needed in the way sexual abuse cases are handled.

In a letter to two Democratic senators – Barbara Boxer of California and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire – who had demanded he look into the case, Hagel said that while Franklin’s ruling cannot be overturned, he had asked Pentagon lawyers and the secretary of the air force to review the way he decided the case. He has also asked them to determine whether changes need to be made to the UCMJ.

At the end of a week-long court martial, in which Wilkerson did not testify, he was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail, with dismissal from the air force and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

At sentencing, prosecutor Captain Ben Beliles said that Wilkerson had shown striking hubris and recklessness by assaulting the woman with his wife and nine-year-old son sleeping under the same roof. He noted that Wilkerson expressed no remorse and urged the jury to imprison him for five years.

 

Related:

Woman Goes On Hannity, Says Men Should Not Rape Women, Gets Gang Rape Threats

Watch: President Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act With Huge Audience — Full Text And Speech

Tina Fey Tired Of ‘Gray-Faced Men With $2 Haircuts’ Telling Her What Rape Is

Melissa Harris Perry Talks About Rape: A Letter To Richard Mourdock (Video)

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{ 5 comments }

MarcoLuxe March 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

If the lesson is that F-16 pilots are too valuable to incarcerate [a sad, but militarily justified conclusion], then the victim should have been offered compensation equivalent to the potential lost military value of the pilot. Now she has nothing but rape, public humiliation, and permanent injustice. She lost completely, and the military "won" completely because they make the rules. The unbalance promotes further injustice.

lorimakesquilts March 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Bullshit, F-16 pilots are not too valuable to incarcerate or to be dishonorably discharged. How can his judgement possibly be good enough to be entrusted with an F-16? He can't understand one exceedingly simple rule — DON'T RAPE WOMEN. How can he possibly understand an F-16? He sure as hell doesn't have the self-control to be in charge of something that complicated and that expensive.

This is what it has come to in our country. As long as you're "special" you can get away with anything. Take heed women — the military will do nothing to protect you against your fellow soldiers, no matter how heinous the crime.

Alex_Parrish March 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm

This is not justice. There was a trial. There was a verdict. General Franklin did not participate in the trial. He did not call or interview witnesses. He is not a judge. (I suspect he is not a lawyer either, but that is not clear in the article) This is absolute proof that there is no justice in the military "Justice System." Why even bother with trials in the future? Just let commanding officers decide according to their own criteria and preferences. This is shameful. I am not making a judgement based on the guilt or innocence of the accused; the court already did that. I am making a judgement on the trustworthiness and independence of the JAG. Military justice no longer has any credibility whatsoever.

Cyn1171 March 13, 2013 at 3:02 am

And they wonder why so many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported in the military? This man was found guilty in a properly held trial in which he was competently represented by counsel. To have that just wiped away as if it didn't exist is ludicrous. I'm betting it's going to come out that Franklin served with Wilkerson's father/uncle/brother/some such and a favor was called in. There can be no other logical reason why a three-star general would generate such a political and public perception shit-storm for the Air Force – one that it has no defense against.

shafarnullifidian August 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

The Air Force has its honorific title – Top Gun. I suggest the USAF establish dishonorific awards with gradations, e.g., horrorific, horrificor, horrificimus. Enhancements could include the "barbed wire cluster", the douche bag, the douche bag with nozzle, double douche bags with crossed nozzles and the overflowing colostomy bag.

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