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In today’s politically charged military climate, there is a heavy emphasis on prosecuting claims of rape, sexual assault and other nonconsensual sexual misconduct. It is now almost an obsession in the military. Where there was once a time when military commanders would assess the merits of an allegation, the current pressure on the military justice system to prosecute every sexual assault allegation, regardless of any problems or weaknesses with the allegation, has resulted in a tremendous amount of these cases within the system. There is political pressure from Congress. There is public pressure from advocacy groups and the media. There is command pressure. You are likely familiar with social movements such as #metoo, #timesup, #startbybelieving.
All of this pressure is directed at taking the word “justice” out of the military justice system. The goal by those exerting the pressure seems to be to attempt to limit an accused military member’s ability to defend against these claims, to stack the deck in favor of the prosecution, to attempt to ensure convictions, and then to attempt to ensure harsh sentences. These cases are very serious. They could result in federal sex crime convictions, decades or even life in prison, punitive discharges and sex offender registration.
It is a crucial time in the military justice system, and you need an aggressive and experienced defense lawyer to navigate the pressures and mount an aggressive defense in these military cases.
Because of the emphasis on these cases in the military, Attorney Richard V. Stevens handles more alleged rape and sexual assault cases than any other type of case. That is often what causes clients to seek him out as an expert or specialist in this type of case. It is why he has been asked to train less experienced defense attorneys in military and civilian professional conferences. It is also why he is a defense attorney recommended by advocacy groups that help military members accused of sexual assault and/or facing military courts-martial.
While the latest military focus on alleged rape and sexual assault allegations started in 2012, this isn’t the first time the military has set their sights on this topic. In response to the Navy “Tailhook” scandal in 1991, the military focused on alleged rape and sexual assault claims. In response to the Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal in 2003, the military focused on alleged rape and sexual assault claims. Then, after the Lackland Air Force Base Military Training Instructor (MTI) scandal of 2012, the current military justice system is again focused on alleged rape and sexual assault claims.
When the military justice system “focuses” on a topic like rape and sexual assault, that inevitably means the DoD will overreact and over-adjust and the military will attempt to stack the deck against the accused and his defense. These cases are not hopeless for the accused, but a strong defense attorney is key to fighting back against the pressure to convict and punish.
Attorney Richard V. Stevens has handled military cases since 1995, and has seen the changes in the military justice system over the years. He has been fighting against injustices in the system longer than many military attorneys have been practicing law. Here is a web article he wrote that was published by a website back in 2005, warning against how the military focus on rape and sexual assault cases leads to overreaction and injustice: http://www.falserape.net/stevens_commentary.html
The current climate in the military justice system has resulted in, essentially, a presumption of guilt and a surrendering of discretion by the military command – where more and more meritless allegations are being prosecuted in response to public relations pressure. When Article 32 hearing Preliminary Hearing Officers (PHO) in these cases recommend against going to trial because of issues with the government’s evidence or the complainant’s credibility, military commanders are now regularly ignoring such recommendations and going to trial anyway. The pressure on them to push the case to trial is greater than their sense of duty.
More disturbing is the fact that the DoD’s overreaction to public pressure has caused the service branches to conduct mandatory sexual assault briefings in which misinformation about the law of rape and sexual assault in the military and UCMJ is knowingly being spread to the military populace. This has poisoned many throughout the entire military justice process – from the investigators (Army CID, Air Force OSI, Navy NCIS, Coast Guard CGIS, military police) through command, JAG, convening authorities, prosecutors, and potential court-martial members (“jury”).
As a result of this dangerous and unfair climate, you need an experienced and aggressive civilian defense attorney who can push back against the pressure to stack the deck in these military cases.
Our blog contains numerous posts addressing how we have successfully defended military members facing rape and sexual assault allegations over the years. There are also many posts addressing what is happening in the military justice system with these cases. Just use the search function in the blog to review these posts. Type in search terms such as “rape” or “sexual assault.”
In the UCMJ, cases such as these are covered by the following Articles:
UCMJ Article 120 – Rape and Sexual Assault Generally
– Sexual Assault
– Aggravated Sexual Contact
– Abusive Sexual Contact
UCMJ Article 120a – Depositing Obscene Matters in the Mail
UCMJ Article 120b – Rape and Sexual Assault of a Child
UCMJ Article 120c – Other Sexual Misconduct
– Indecent Viewing, Recording, Broadcasting
– Forcible Pandering
– Indecent Exposure
UCMJ Article 130 – Stalking
UCMJ Article 134 – Indecent Conduct
UCMJ Article 134 – Indecent Language
UCMJ Article 134 – Pandering and Prostitution
Attorney Richard V. Stevens is considered a subject matter expert in military rape and sexual assault cases – having defended countless such cases over the years with successful results. He has also been in contact with members of Congress and/or their staffs over these issues and has been sought by media outlets as an expert in the subject. Initial case consultations are free, and it is crucial that you are prepared for the tough fight ahead in these cases!