Military Senior Noncommissioned Officer Found Not Guilty Of Sexual Assault In Court-Martial Trial (UCMJ Article 120)

Recently, a military senior noncommissioned officer (SNCO) who faced a general court-martial (GCM) in which he was accused of the sexual assault of a military friend was found not guilty of the allegation at his general court-martial trial. The accused military member was defended by military law attorney Richard V. Stevens

The military SNCO client was accused of sexual assault by a military acquaintance who he had a long-term casual relationship with the client that included significant sexting and a plan to have sex when they got together. They were stationed at different bases. This relationship was mischaracterized by the complainant when asked by the investigators, and they only learned of the extent of the sexual interactions when they forensically extracted the client’s phone.

Ultimately, the client and the complainant did get together at her house, they engaged in drinking, and they had sex. In the morning, after they woke up and talked about having engaged in sex the night before, the complainant admits she invited the client back into her bedroom and had sex with him a second time.

For four days after the interaction at issue, the two parties kept in touch via text, and the complainant was talking about getting together with the client again and joking about the night at issue. After the four days passed, the complainant was concerned about a woman’s health issue that arose, and she then claimed sex with the accused on the first occasion was not consensual, because she was too intoxicated to consent. She admits she had been (erroneously) trained during military sexual assault briefings that a woman cannot consent to sex after one drink.

During trial, and after a lengthy cross-examination of the complainant, the defense was able to expose numerous inconsistencies in the complainant’s story, motives to make the false allegation, and things that did not make sense about her story. The complainant claimed to have suffered a fragmentary alcohol blackout, but the defense elicited from a forensic psychology expert that such a memory impairment does not mean the person was unable to engage in knowing and purposeful behavior when the sex occurred. In addition, the defense committed the complainant to trial testimony that was refuted by other witnesses, which appeared to indicate the complainant was lying under oath at trial.

At the close of the trial, the officer and enlisted members on the panel returned a verdict of not guilty.

Had there been a conviction in the case, in addition to the federal criminal conviction and sentence, the client would have been required to register as a sex offender. Thankfully, that did not happen and the client can now continue with his military career, retire, and move into the civilian sector without such a burden hanging over his head.

While this military court-martial case was successfully defended, it is important to understand that every case has different facts, and success in previous cases does not guarantee success in any particular future case. No military lawyer or civilian defense lawyer, including those who specialize in military law, can guarantee the outcome of any military trial or case.

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, see our page:

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Attorney Richard Stevens

Mr. Stevens has been handling military cases since 1995. He has defended military cases dealing with the most serious military offenses, including allegations of “war crimes,” national security cases, murder, manslaughter, homicide, rape, sexual assault, other sex related offenses, drug offenses, computer crimes (pornography), larceny, fraud, AWOL/desertion, conduct unbecoming, military academy offenses, offenses within combat zones, senior officer cases and other military specific offenses around the world. [ Attorney Bio ]