US v. E-6
September 28, 2020
Key West, Florida
My client was falsely accused by a young woman who wanted to save her marriage. That was my case. Three months before the accuser claimed my client sexually assaulted her, she was caught having an “emotional” affair on her husband. Her husband called the guy, met him in a parking lot, and broke his nose. After her “emotional” affair, her husband gave her a second chance. Then, while on TDY in Key West, Florida, she hooked up with my client.
Five months after the Key West trip ended, the accuser heard a rumor that my client was telling people in their unit that he “hooked up” with her. Her husband was stationed on the same base. Within 24-hours of hearing this rumor, she accused my client of sexual assault.
My client was innocent. I knew it. My team knew it. The Government may have even known it. But he was prosecuted anyway.
My client is a first generation American. He grew up in a boy’s home in Europe. His biological family left him. He first found solace in soccer. He used that passion to earn a scholarship to an American college. He did not look like the rest of us. He did not speak like the rest of us. He was different. His accuser claimed he was “creepy.” Not so. He was a minority and he was just different. His accuser feasted on his differences. She wanted to make him seem like a weirdo, like an outsider. Like someone who was less than “American.”
After his soccer career ended, he worked at a bank on a military post. He loved how the military “men” carried themselves. He was a great runner. He was told that would help him with the training. He joined the Air Force to serve the country that had given him an education. He wanted to serve his nation to prove that he was an “American.”
His world came crashing down in the fall of 2018. He was told that he sexually assaulted a woman in his unit. He said the wrong things to the wrong people. Mostly because English was his second language and he was trying to understand why he was in so much trouble. After he was charged, the Air Force offered him a Chapter Four, which would spare him a criminal record but his career in the military would be over. I begged him to take it. Why risk jail time? Why risk a dishonorable discharge? Why risk sex offender registration?
My client refused. He believed in the “American Justice” system and he refused to admit any wrongdoing. He wanted to “fight until the end.” He prayed a lot. He prayed openly in front of us all the time. The case was in God’s hands. I was inspired by such profound faith.
His accuser testified for over an hour. She was convincing. She shook. She cried. She had clearly been practicing. The jury did not know what I knew. The jury did not know that she had changed her story dozens of times. The jury did not know that she perjured herself under oath during a motions hearing or that she lied to the Office of Special Investigations. My own business partner thought we were in trouble after her testimony.
As I walked up to the podium, I could feel the weight of the truth on my shoulders. I could feel the weight of my client’s future on my back. I was sweating. This surprised me. After so many years of doing this, you would think I would be used to it. You never get used to it. If you are lucky, you get better, more educated, and more polished. But you never get used to it.
I went on the attack. I pointed out lie after lie after lie. By the end of the cross examination, I successfully impeached her 13 times. She admitted that she misled law enforcement. She admitted that she misled the Government. She admitted that she lied under oath and committed perjury. She tried to lie more on the stand. I would not let her. I did my job well. I was proud. My client was proud. What did the jury think?
I weaved all the inconsistencies into my closing argument. I attacked and attacked and attacked. The Government claimed I was a bully; they claimed I beat the witnesses into submission. I admit, I did beat them. Not because I wanted the answers necessary to help my case; I beat them because they were lying. I was after the truth, not their stories. Every time I impeached a witness, it was based on their prior statements, their own words. I just had to remind them.
We waited for two hours while the jury deliberated. My client paced back and forth in the room, my co-counsel was confident, and Dr. Edwards, our medical professional, felt that we did enough. Finally, the bailiff retrieved us. My undershirt was drenched in sweat as we stood to hear the verdict. My client gripped my hand, and I could see the tears streaming down his face.
I maintained my bearing until the jury left. I hugged my client. I hugged my co-counsel. A rush of people congratulated me and told me I had done a good thing. We hurried back to the defense room. My client collapsed with his head in his hands in prayer as tears streamed down his face. We won. My client was innocent.
I have been called a “victim basher” and a “victim shamer.” I have been ridiculed by some for representing people accused of sexual assault. “How could I help someone like that?”
I have never victim shamed in my life. I have ultimate respect for victims of sexual assault. There is no place in the military for sexual assault. It degrades our ability to fight wars and rips from the victim more than we could imagine. I understand. I fully support a rigorous investigations process. I fully support the victim’s advocacy program and educating every service member about the dangers of sexual assault.
I also believe that people are falsely accused every day in the military of sexual assault. What should happen to these people? Should they be chained up? Locked away? Spit on?
No. That is not what America stands for. I represent service members falsely accused of sexual assault because I believe in it. Am I a victim blamer for calling out lies? Am I a victim blamer for standing up for men like my client who are the victim of perjury and false allegations? No. I am an attorney who believes that all men, black or white, deserve a fair trial under the law.
My client got justice today. What about the hundreds that will be falsely convicted! There must be a balance. We must eradicate sexual assault from the military. But it must not come at the expense of innocent men. Otherwise, what is there worth fighting for?
FULL ACQUITTAL. No sex offender registration. No jail time.