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By Rachael Riley – The Fayetteville Observer

August 28, 2020

Special Forces officer who faced sexual assault charges at a military court-martial this week was found not guilty on each of the charges Thursday.

The eight-man panel that included seven colonels and a brigadier general found Col. K.R. not guilty of sexually assaulting an Air Force captain who was on the same deployment with him in 2015 to Pakistan.

The Fayetteville Observer does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault.

“He’s dealing with it the best he can under the circumstances,” K.R.’s lawyer, Michael Waddington, said of K.R.’s name being associated with the allegations, even if the person who made them recants them. “But he knows he didn’t do it so he and his family are going to move on.”

K.R., who testified Wednesday that sex with the captain was consensual, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Those charges included whether he sexually assaulted the woman and whether he sexually assaulted her while she was asleep, impaired or unable to provide consent and whether he kissed the woman while she was incapacitated, impaired or with the intent for arousal.

During closing arguments, Waddington said he did not think prosecutors provided evidence to support the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

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“He had faith in the system. He had faith in his attorneys. He had faith that the Army was putting him a process,” Waddington said after the verdict was read. “It did give him due process, and in the end, justice was served. ”

Maj. Stacy Gutarz Cohen, who represented the prosecution, repeated the woman’s testimony in which she alleged that she went to an establishment with K.R. on June 5, 2015, and could not remember much from that night after having two drinks that K.R. brought her.  The woman alleged that she woke to K.R. having sex with her.
K.R. testified Wednesday that the woman was coherent when she came into his room that night and initiated the sex.

The woman testified Wednesday that she had sex with K.R. and his housemate, an Army captain, prior to and after the alleged assault.  Both men were married at the time.  The Army captain alleged during his testimony Tuesday that all three left the establishment together in June 2015 and when they returned to the house, he and K.R. carried the woman upstairs.  The captain, who was granted immunity of his own affair allegations for his testimony, said the woman was not coherent and alleged he saw K.R. kiss her.  K.R. said the woman walked up the stairs on her own and all three went to bed after a short conversation in the hallway.

On Thursday, Waddington reminded the panel that the woman said she had sex with the Army captain later the same morning of the alleged assault.  Waddington alleged the woman and captain lied about the story.

He questioned why she had sex with K.R. after the alleged assault, went to dinner with him, helped organize two parties for him after the alleged assault, went on a group hike with him that was photographed after the alleged assault or had sex with him the day he left Pakistan.

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Waddington questioned why she provided text messages to investigators from March, April, May, and July between her and K.R. but none from the month of the alleged assault. He questioned her credibility as a witness because he said she later maintained an on-again, off-again relationship with the Army captain, but “used ploys” to keep the relationship going, which included lying about having had cancer.

“We had faith that the military panel would come to the right decision,” Waddington said. “We knew what evidence we had and what the truth was, so we’re pleased with the verdict.”

Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at rriley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3528.


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