Whenever any service member is accused of any type of domestic violence, sexual harassment, or sexual assault; service members are strongly encouraged to keep in mind the following unwritten “rules.” There are a lot of excellent papers covering this topic with great references; this is not one of them. I am not going to try and duplicate those efforts. I want to give you a quick and easy synopsis of what you are facing and what you need to do. When you have time, you will need to read the papers referenced in this article. This will give you a deeper understanding of the history of this issue and how the system and its cronies are now stacked against you. Due process and fundamental fairness have been replaced by political expediency.
The Secret War, you are now in it.
There is a secret war being waged in the military. You need to understand that what you are facing now is a direct result of the Department of Defense trying to appease certain male politicians in order to maintain its own power. Due process and service member rights have been sacrificed in order streamline the process. This includes changes to the UCMJ, special “victim” programs, and a reward system for false accusers. If you have been accused, the full weight of the U.S. government is now coming down on you. The ultimate goal is to get you to admit guilt. This will make their statistics look better. They will do this by pushing plea deals and only offering you counseling for parole if you first accept guilt, the game is stacked.
Once accused, you are GUILTY until proven guilty!
Once on the “radar” of commanders and prosecutors, collateral charges will continue to be added in order to get you for something. This is especially true for current politically sensitive cases such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Systems in the past such as an Article 32 Hearing (Preliminary Hearing) that used to serve as “sanity checks” are now only speed bumps to a Court Martial.
CYA. Cover Your A$$!
Covering their butts is the primary concern of virtually all “leaders” and judges in the military today. This is especially true for generals that can, and will, have their promotions blocked by politicians.
Military Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Training is a farce.
The current political and media narrative is that there is a rape “epidemic” in our military. SHARP training has made all members of the military biased in their perceptions of what sexual assault really is and men are told they can reinterpret any sexual encounter they have ever had at any time with no statute of limitations. Not only that, but the military will pay them for it! Can you design a system more likely to be abused?
Any relationship is a potential liability.
Every person you have a relationship with is a potential liability and future “victim.” At work, never put yourself in a position of vulnerability such as meeting/counseling a member of the opposite sex alone. Be careful in your relationships with men that have children, it will be you versus them.
As a woman, if you are the one to call the police or MPs in any scenario, you are probably going to get arrested.
This applies even if they have to pry that frying pan or ax out of your head that your spouse or boyfriend hit you with. Law enforcement views you as a threat, a potential Rambo.
EPOs are easy, expect to be served!
Your spouse, or almost anyone; boyfriend; the man you met at the bar the night before; a male military member who you walked by in the hallway; (check your state’s laws), can make an accusation and file an EPO (Emergency Protective Order) against you at any time. If they live with you, all that you leave behind is now theirs. Keep a copy of critical defense information with a trusted family member or friend. Just to pile it on, as the military loves to do, your commander will also give you an MPO, or military protection order, restricting your freedom and rights (CYA!). EPOs usually last for two weeks so that your “victim” has plenty of time to strip your house of all you own. Be sure to grab your laptop, titles, passport, etc. on your way out. If you have pets, don’t leave them behind, they will starve. Have a contingency plan in preparation for being accused. Practice it, know it; rehearse.
The Military Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is a farce.
If there is a report of domestic abuse or violence a referral to FAP is mandatory by commanders (CYA!). Why wouldn’t your accuser want to go all out against you? This is particularly the case of that ex that just lost all his government benefits. FAP needs to get you in their program, and they will hold a secret meeting to determine if you should be there. Oh, by the way, you can’t attend and speak for yourself and provide evidence and witnesses, neither can your attorney. They won’t tell you, but your assigned counselor that’s “there for you” is also your accusers and they have probably already heard and bought into their version of events first.
Hire a competent civilian defense lawyer specializing in military courts-martial.
This is the single most important thing you can do! Do not trust military defense council! Yes, they are free, and yes, you get what you pay for. JAG lawyers are all friends and coworkers that share information whether it is intentional or not. New JAGs, junior captains, are usually the ones assigned as defense counsel. Their job is to push plea deals on unsuspecting clients. They also advise them to go judge alone instead of a panel (“jury”). Having a seasoned civilian attorney that knows how the military system works and knows how the key JAG “players” at your base operate is a deciding factor on what your sentence will be.
You need to act as your own lawyer too. Document everything and keep a timeline.
This is the second best thing you can do. No one knows your case better than you. Be proactive and organized. Keep a daily log of events and documents to back them up. If your case is complicated, you will need a lawyer with a support staff. This can be crucial! Gather any other evidence that may be relevant to your case. Make a list of anyone that can serve as a witness for you. Nothing will isolate you more than being labeled a rapist or child molester. If you or your family and friends receive or discover something that may help you, make sure you take a snapshot and make a hard copy right away.
“Victim” centered investigations by biased law enforcement are the new standard.
Like SHARP, “Victim” centered investigations (the victim must be believed) is so indoctrinated that many investigators don’t think twice about their biased perspective. Do not talk or make statements to them! Ever!! They get “results” through intimidation, coercion, and offering rewards. Do not submit to any testing without your attorney’s approval and coordination. This means polygraphs too.
REMEMBER: They are NOT there for the purposes of determining the truth. Once accused the primary purpose is to CONVICT someone, at any and all costs.
The military is making “Victims” and Witnesses through bribery or coercion.
Military investigators and JAGs will usually look for only negative information and consult only witnesses that will help their case against you. They will start by telling your friends and associates that you are a rapist or child molester, and they need to help put you away to protect others (again, guilty until proven guilty). The second thing they will say is that there is a “victim” compensation program that pays thousands of dollars a month. Then they will ask “Did she ever sexually assault you? Are you a victim too?
The UCMJ process is held as being fair and impartial, but it’s not, especially with recent changes.
The military can keep you flagged and in an indeterminate status for as long as they want, just like Guantanamo. If you decide to opt for a Court Martial over an Article 15 (minor non-judicial punishment), the military has the option (and they will take it) to add additional collateral charges to your case so that something will stick and justify their witch hunt. They will also stack the same charge over and over again to increase the potential sentence and get you to take a plea deal (which means admitting guilt).
Military Prosecutors hold all the cards.
The military (il)legal process is a battle between lawyers and judges over rules and procedures, not a battle of determining the truth. The same is true for your courts-martial. Witnesses, evidence, and any information of your innocence will be fought, blocked, and argued to prevent it from becoming part of the proceedings. This will be kept from the panel.
Expect devious tactics, lies, and other acts of investigative and prosecutorial misconduct to be part of the process. Everything is filtered through the prosecutors. They control everything! They can and will deny you the resources and witnesses you need to prove your innocence. The requests also telegraph your defense strategy. They will also try to block information that shows their accusers lies and past history. It’s usually not admissible anyway. Prosecutors will elevate an Article 15 to a court-martial in order to eliminate evidence of innocence like contradictory statements, polygraph examinations, and prior criminal acts or acts of lying on the part of accusers. Prosecutors will instigate new charges from false accusers and provide them protection and benefits.
UCI, (Unlawful Command Influence) is alive and well.
Once you are on the “radar” of a self-serving commander, you are toast. This means if your commander’s pet project for her next OER (evaluation) is, for example, reducing drug use, and that’s what you’re accused of, look out! You’re getting both barrels. There is no standard of punishment per crime, only minimum, and maximum sentences, and every rule can be waived. This is another major flaw in the UCMJ.
Congressional Requests are double edged swords.
If you are being treated unfairly, you may request a Congressional Inquiry through your Congresswoman. I have seen this work well for some Soldiers and their families, but if you do, be prepared for possible backlash including additional charges.
A Courts Martial is a narrative, and your story cannot be told.
This is hard to understand, but my lawyer finally got it through my head. A court-martial is the prosecution telling your accusers story, often a story the prosecutors instigated. You do not get to tell your story. Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) prevent that, and the judge will make sure it doesn’t happen. Your lawyers can only try to “poke” holes in the accuser’s story. In other words, prove you didn’t do something. How do you prove a negative? You raped me ten years ago, prove you didn’t do it.
Courts-Martial Panels are not like a civilian jury; they are stacked against you.
This is not a civilian jury of 12 of your peers that must make a unanimous decision of guilt. This is a military panel of your superiors, sometimes as few as five. Only two-thirds majority is required for a felony conviction! Court members (panel members) will be selected based on their perceived loyalty to the convening authority. The courts-martial process is scary in how powerless you are. Your fate is in someone else’s hands and you will be surprised out how little of your story (the truth) is allowed in. This is by design.
The worst part. There is no retribution against false accusers.
That’s right; there is NO PUNISHMENT for false accusers, but there are rewards! Reasons for lying can be varied. They may want to avoid the consequences of adultery or punish their spouse for suspected adultery. Maybe there is a child custody dispute or maybe it’s just the $$. Either way, the military loves getting into your bedroom and examining your life to show how bad you are. A senior male attorney specializing in campus sexual assault allegations stated at a conference I attended that- “90% of the time false rape and sexual assault allegations are done to either gain the sympathy of an ex, or punish “the one that got away.”
The final rule- You can never really win!
Remember it’s the U.S. government versus you. You versus 20 Mike Tysons. The bottom line and the reality is that once you are accused; that’s it. Your career, and quite possibly your freedom, is over. Not all cases are like this of course, but this is the general rule of thumb. There are still some military leaders and commanders out there that utilize common sense and have spines, but they are being weeded out quickly.
Ultimately nothing is going to change until the American people are made aware of what is happening and force their politicians to correct it. This can be done by-
- Documenting and humanizing cases of wrongly accused veterans.
- Documenting the unethical conduct of commanders, prosecutors, and investigators.
- Showing the impact it has on military families and military readiness.
American Veterans and Service Members should have the same rights as the citizens they defend, a fair and impartial legal process. The military has shown it is not capable of being trusted to do this and is politically and internally biased. Specific changes need to be made:
- Remove the military from all investigations and prosecutions expect those involving military and war specific crimes such as spying and desertion.
- Give Service Members the same rights as citizens- innocent until proven guilty, jury trial by 12 peers, a unanimous verdict required. Sexual Assault investigations and trials should occur in the civilian county of where they allegedly occurred.
- There should be a time limit on any allegation.
- Stop rewarding accusers and giving them “special victim status” based only on an accusation.
- Give all proven false accusers the max punishment their victims would have received.
- Conduct a Department of Justice (DoJ) run 100% review in the cases of all veterans charged or convicted of sex crimes since the recent UCMJ changes and political UCI came into effect, approximately 2011.
- Prosecute all commanders, JAG officers, and investigators that committed unethical and illegal actions.
- Change EPO Laws to require a hearing of both parties first. Sanctuaries and other protections exist for emergency situations. Track all EPOs in a national public database to stop abusers and con-artists.
- Dissolve all SHARP and FAP programs. Use unbiased private civilian agencies and real professionals.
- Completely reform or disband the JAG Corps and military investigation agencies (and MRE), they have no oversight and have proven they cannot be trusted.
I know all of this hard to hear, but I hope this helps you and your family understand at least what you are facing and what needs to be done. Please pass this on to any and all military members and add your story or lessons.
For additional support, I would contact Save Our Heroines. They are networking with many other groups such as NCFM and CPI and have access to key leaders in this fight such as Michael Conzachi. “Saint” Michael is and has been, THE point woman in this fight. As a veteran herself and former high profile detective and investigator, Mike can smell a rat, and she has been a tireless advocate for the falsely accused. I literally owe her and others my life.
If you are in the military and not yet accused, I advise you to GET OUT NOW!
If you have family or friends that are thinking about joining, have them read this first and do a little research, that should end any consideration they had of joining this cannibalistic organization.
 JAG Lawyer MAJ Mason Weiss “Defending the Indefensible” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2740061
 NCFM College False Accusation Conference, 1 AUG, 2016 Charlotte, NC