Discussion About military sexual assault
This is from a transcript between military sexual assault defense lawyers as they discuss sexual assault in the military and how to avoid a false allegation.
Tim Bilecki: Hi, this is Tim Bilecki, managing partner of Bilecki and Tipon. I’m here with a colleague of mine, Michael Waddington, and one of the questions that we get asked a lot is how to avoid a false allegation of sexual assault. Because the reality is, false allegations do occur. They happen a lot, especially in the military. But we see trends that happen over and over and over because often people will say what, I’ve been on this earth 20, 30, 40 years, I’ve never been falsely accused. And I’ve had other people who get falsely accused. So, there are a few things that you can avoid which will probably limit your exposure to false allegations and if you limit that exposure to false allegations, then you don’t have to potentially run the risk of going to a court-martial, run the risk of a having a criminal trial and then importantly running the risk of a wrongful conviction against you for a crime you didn’t commit. So, often, these come down to just decisions that you make. It comes down to life choices, and while some of them may be commonsense, we see a trend in a pattern of over and over and over, the same scenarios happen which lead to (00:01:00) a false accusation. Mike, are you seeing the same thing.
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: Absolutely, and if this is something that my and I, my wife Alexandra and I are law partners. We have a son who is now 19 years old, and he’s an E4 in the United States Army Reserve. And before he went to boot camp, he went to boot camp when he was 17. We beat these into his head. Okay, and we’re not talking in this video about people accused of a crime they committed. We’re talking about a false allegation. And the things that we warn young men for and old men and any man out there and my son in particular, and things we see a lot of these cases are very much commonsense. But people often don’t use commonsense. I mean, for example, if you meet someone at a bar or anywhere and they start telling you about the past three or four boyfriends or husbands and how those people are so bad they were raping them, they were beating them. They’re just a poor abuse victim, and that’s, and that’s something they’re telling you (00:02:00) about, especially if it is early on, you need to run away. Almost every false allegation we get, there’s red, there are red flags left, and right and the person is usually a consummate victim like their husband abused them, and their past and they’ve been raped. I mean, their entire life, they’re a victim. If you do anything wrong to that person or just don’t want to even be with them, you’d have to do anything wrong. You’re probably going to get falsely accused somewhere along the line. You run a high risk. That’s one of the things. What else give me? Give me some more ideas or examples of what you see that lead to false allegations.
Tim Bilecki: Yeah, if you’re in the bar and you’re drinking with someone, and he’s had a lot to drink, and she is so drunk she is stumbling or can’t control her alcohol, and you see a wedding ring on her finger, probably it’s a good time to walk away. So, if you’re in the bar, I don’t care how attractive she is, or he is, and they’re drinking and that person you’re flirting with, and you look down, and there’s a wedding ring, now you may have one as well, I don’t know. I’m not trying to judge. But the reality is if the person you’re trying to hook up with at the (00:03:00) bar is intoxicated, they’re drinking, they are flirting with you, and they have a wedding ring, walk away because what can happen is you can have completely consensual sex that night, and I’m not the morality police. I’m not judging that though right or wrong, my personal beliefs aside, but the next morning a husband or a wife or a spouse can find out, and often, that can lead to a false allegation of sexual assault. So, again, if you’re at the bar and you’re drinking, and a grower or guys forwarding with you and they’re married, walk away.
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: Or if they have a boyfriend. So many of our cases start when the boyfriend either physically walks in or finds out and doesn’t have to be the next day, you know, if you hooked up with someone. At the same time, you are TDY, and they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or they’re married, two years down the road if the wife finds out, guess what, the statute of limitations is five years. So, you’re facing a sex assault charge two, three, four years later, and you and how did you defend yourself while TDY something that happened three years ago in Honolulu and (00:04:00) there are no witnesses. It comes down to whether or not the jury believes a person, and they could convict you. So, I also don’t have sex with super dunk people just if you don’t know them. Don’t have sex with them, and many of these young soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines say you crazy, Mr. Waddington. Who do you think this is, the modern era. You’re darned right it is, and sexual assault allegations, false ones particularly, are a big part of the modern era, so you don’t have to listen to me, but I don’t think you want to have to retain either one of us to defend you when if you used common sense you could have avoided it. So, those are two great points, Tim, and here’s another one. If you’re in the military, don’t have sex with someone in your unit and if you outrank them. Well, just don’t have sex with anyone outrank. Either of those is two other big things. You have sex with someone in your unit, and you outrank them, you’re probably going to catch some sort of sexual assault or sexual harassment charge or allegation, even if it’s false. It’s going to ruin your career.
TIM BILECKI: Yeah. (00:05:00) This is another one I see, don’t have sex with someone you meet on Whisper or another dating app. While we can see in the modern world people being on Tinder, on Bumble, on Whisper. But when you meet them, this is often common sense, but they may say they’re 14, or they’re 15, and you may see a picture of someone who’s 21, 22. Let me tell you what, NCIS and Sandy run these sting operations where they will show you a picture of a 21-year-old or a 22-year-old. They’ll throw into the conversation that they’re in high school or that they’re 14 and commonsense. I’m like, you’re going to say, you’re going to walk away right up, right away as soon as we see that. But I have Marines, I’ve had sailors, I have airmen, I have service members across the board who just go show up to these people’s houses and meet them and say, well, I saw a picture. I thought they were 21 or 22, and then they get arrested. They get charged. Now one thing you can do is don’t hook up with who you’ve just met on an anonymous app like Whisper. There are many ways to meet people, and I’m Tinder’s fine, Bumble’s, fine. Other apps can be fine, but do some due diligence and don’t do it on some anonymous (00:06:00) site where you will meet them, and it’s sketchy because if it sounds sketchy, let me clue you in it is.
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: Yeah, that sees these are some these are commonsense things but I’ve in the past year I represented an E8 in the Special Forces that showed up to hook up with someone that, that he met on one of these and I also represented a naval officer that did the same thing. And they were both set up sting operations and standing back and looking at it, you, you think you were known better, but that’s great. That’s a great tip, Tim, and here’s another one, and this is kind of politically incorrect, but don’t have sex with people that are crazy men. Don’t do it. Don’t have sex with someone mentally unstable. I have 06’s that do it. I have E9’s and E1’s, and I have O1s but they meet someone that is met they know is mentally ill that sometimes they’ve accused other people but that they are on a bunch of psychotropic drugs and they’ll start dating the person and (00:07:00) having sex with them then combine that with my next trip and you see this a lot. I know you do because I do, and it’s in it, and then you mistreat them, or you lead them on like don’t, don’t lead people on that are, that are crazy, that have falsely accused people in the past, that is vindictive and or mistreat them because you’re going to be falsely accused of sexual assault. At a minimum, if you’re going to violate all these rules we mentioned. Don’t kick the woman out of the house as soon as you finish in the middle of the cold in her stocking feet and tell her she’s a dirty whore and throws her out. Because guess what.
Tim Bilecki: Yeah, because then the allegation is going to come against and another one, if you’re, if you’re married, don’t mess around on your wife. If you’re married and you’re married and miserable, right, then get a divorce. Get a separation. But if you’re going to go mess around on your wife, then when I see people do, they’ll go to they’ll have a girlfriend in the Philippines, they’ll have a girlfriend and this being in Hawaii. A lot of clients and maybe an E1 to O6. They may have (00:08:01) girlfriends in the Philippines. They don’t think their wife knows about it. But their spouse is a lot smarter than you think. They’re using these apps, sending money, sending flowers, and then they lead these women on in the Philippines, and I’m not picking on the Philippines. It’s something that we see a lot here in Hawaii, and they don’t tell them they’re married. They don’t tell them they have kids, and these women in the Philippines expect to come to the US and expect some type of engagement. Then they’re being led on, then the spouse finds out, and then all of a sudden a disaster also occurs, and then the spouse thinks of making the allegation of sexual assault okay because they’re vindictive or they’re upset. They have a reason to be upset, but all of this can be avoided if you’re married don’t have an extramarital relationship. And it just goes back to commonsense. If you’re married and miserable, stop, work out the issue and go get a divorce. Don’t mess around on your spouse because if you do, it can all come back to haunt you, and you said Mike, these are all commonsense things looking at it from someone who’s now in my 40s, I’ve got three children. I’m very happily married. These are all commonsense things and people watching this. They may say, hey Tim, no kidding, (00:09:00), but you would be shocked at the number of calls I get, and you get every single day, and we get 40, 50, sometimes 80 inquiries a month for service members that want us to represent them and they all have these same themes. I’m often saying, hey, if you had just taken some of this initial advice at the beginning, you wouldn’t need to hire us now because it may very well be a false accusation, but now you have to defend your freedom. It’s going to cost you 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars to go defend your freedom, and you’re going to have to go through an entire trial. These are often very tough cases to defend because they come down to credibility, and if you lose, you go to prison, and your life is forever changed, all for something that you look at it say is worth it. I’m in a bar. You see this girl. She may be good looking or not or you with this girl whatever the issue is, you have to say is it worth potentially going to prison over and being a registered sex offender for a false allegation because you put yourself in a really bad situation that you might not have committed the crime. Still, you put yourself in an incredibly bad position. (00:10:00)
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: I completely agree with you, Tim. Here’s another little tip. Again, not politically correct, but I see this a lot. Don’t have sex or get involved with a victim advocate. Don’t do it. And many of you are probably putting a negative data click or dislike on YouTube. Fine. You’re going to next be calling my office. So, many of these people that are there are so victim-oriented they’re in me to movement. There everybody’s a victim. They’re a victim, and they’re volunteering to help victims, and you’re the idiot that starts dating them and having sex with them.
Guess what, buddy, whenever you dump them, your ass is going on the #metoo list, and you’re going to lose your career. I see that so often. And they tell me, but I’m against, I’m against sexual assault, and she’s against sexual assault, so we’ll make up that’s a good couple. Well, nobody’s for sexual assault, first of all, that I know of. I mean, I’m sure there are a few, but the bottom line is you get someone who devotes their life towards helping alleged victims (00:11:00). In the military, many fake victims and fake allegations and their career, their life is devoted to that, and they teach this stuff, and they’re the ones teaching one drink, you can’t consent. They’re the ones forcing and trying to get people to make allegations. Why would you have sex with someone like that? Why would you? I mean, you can do it if you want, but do it at your peril. I’ve had several clients like that in the past year though they’ll go. She’s the victim advocate for the unit, oh go figure, and usually, it’s a combination Tim in it. It, it’s the victim advocate, and you outrank her, and she’s told you her past five boyfriends raped her, and she’s drunk at the bar. She, you’re married, or she’s married. You know all these things combined it’s, it’s usually not one of these things, it’s usually, and then you mistreated her, or you refused to leave your wife for her, or her boyfriend walked in. if you the more of these factors we’re discussing that you add to the equation, the more likely that you’re going to be falsely accused.
TIM BILECKI: Absolutely. (00:12:01) Usually, it’s not just one of two things, it is three or four that we see, and they pile on, and they pile on. Still, the interesting thing is you have the power to make decisions because no one can make these decisions, but you and you have to look at the people you associate with, and I always put people into two kinds of categories. I shouldn’t. Maybe life isn’t just that binary, but if you look at people around you, they’re victims or victors, right? People that are victims everything they’re a victim of. They don’t make enough money, so their employer doesn’t pay them enough. There’s you know they can’t, they’re in debt, maybe they can’t manage their money, whatever. They can’t get a promotion. Well, maybe it’s someone else’s fault, right. So, people are always victims of everything that happens around them, and those are the type of people I try to stay away from. People that everything’s a problem, everything is someone else’s problem. I like to associate myself with victors, people that look at problems and then say how do we solve this problem. I’m not going to be a victim of society.
I make my own decisions. I make my own choices, so if the person you’re with or you’re sleeping with, it can put them into that victim pile and not the victor pile. It’s probably someone you want to walk away from because long-term in your career. I don’t care how good the weekend is with her or him or how good (00:13:00) the night is, long term, it’s going to fail and you and the bigger projects when these things happen when we get these calls, people’s lives change fundamentally. Then they have to call you, or they call me to represent them, and now the stress piles on, and the weight on their shoulders is immense. You see it. You see, these people who are doing amazing things in their life may be making bad decisions, but then they come into our office. They’re broken because now they feel the weight of the government on them. They’re now facing five, ten, twenty, and thirty years in prison over an offense they didn’t commit. Though, they put themselves in a bad situation. So that’s where you and I come in. We have to get these service members through the process, get them through the court-martial and be able to explain to a jury that my client might not have made the best decisions going forward. They may not be decisions that you would have made. Still, they’re innocent of these charges, and that’s a skill that someone like you or me has to do and is happy to do. We do it all the time. But they’re just so freaking preventable. I’d much (00:14:00) rather have someone make a good decision upfront than have to go through hell and back with you or me to get them acquitted. We’re going to do another follow-on video about why these alleged victims who are making false allegations are so believable, why there’s a system that’s put in place to make people but very, very believable when they’re not, why that’s such a challenge for trial lawyers.
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: And Tim, you know what one of the problems is people say ah, they’re false allegations this is easy to win right. No, because the person that’s making the allegation that you had sex with while they’re drunk, while they’re married, that’s crazy, that’s a consummate victim, they’re very credible. So they’ll take the stand, and people will be like, oh my God, you guy did rape her, and we’re thinking Jesus, why would she make this up and so it’s very difficult to take down someone that believes they are a victim and has gone through their whole life as a victim, at least in their mind because they know the right things to say. They’re going to talk about PTSD. They’re very convincing, as some of these are very negative people that are consummate victims, (00:15:00) they’re very convincing to someone unskilled, so the jury might not have ever dealt with someone like this. They’re like, how could someone cry on the witness stand for two hours and describe these acts that you’re terrible client committed and lie about it. A human would never do that. So, if you don’t want to be in this situation, you could want to avoid it, but it’s not easy to win a case. It requires a lot of skill to take down a trained liar, and some of them believe that they’re telling the truth, and they’re very convincing.
TIM BILECKI: But the reality is, there are so many opportunities to prevent a false accusation. If a false accusation has happened to you already, you can’t go back in time. You may say you know Tim, you know Mike, you’re right. I put myself in this situation. I didn’t do this. You need to get a serious representation. Get someone who knows, knows these factors, knows how to see through the BS, that knows how to win these cases at trial. You can’t go back, and you know regret, you may have regret but don’t put yourself in the victim category, put (00:16:00) yourself in the victor category because when you come into my office when you get on the phone with me or get on the phone with you Mike, I want someone that wants to win more than I do. I don’t want someone that says, oh, the Army screwing me, they’re screwing me, I’m going to go to jail. I want someone’s that’s going to come in and say, you know, sir, I’ve made some really bad decisions. I didn’t do what I’m accused of, and I don’t care what it’s going to take, what I’m going to fight this with all I have. That’s the client that I’m going to represent. That’s the client, Mike. When I get ten or, you know, five or six or seven calls in a week, they all want me to represent them. I mean, I can only take on so many cases. I want that individual who is not going to be a victim but will be a victor because I don’t like representing people who it’s everyone else’s problem but their own. Let’s come together, solve the problem, get serious about it and go win this thing.
MICHAEL WADDINGTON: Yeah, Tim, that’s really what this is about when, when we get hired on a case. A lot of people they, they, they’re beaten down, they’re victims. They have PTSD. I’m talking about the person being accused. I understand you might be depressed. You should be depressed or upset if you are being accused of (00:17:00) a crime you didn’t commit. But you need to change your attitude. Come in with a winners mentality. If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging. With the warrior mentality, you come out swinging. You come out aggressively and fight. You have a much higher chance of winning the case and beating the allegations if you do this. You have a better chance of continuing with your life because I don’t like representing people, me the same as you, that is negative. They’re always complaining that, or you know it’s everybody else’s fault because the fact is, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a. Usually, there’s usually, usually a lot of bad decisions that are made that lead up to a false allegation, and you need a lawyer to be able to battle your way out of that and what we don’t need is someone who’s just calling and complaining every day. You need a positive winner’s attitude because that person makes it much better and more convincing witness on witness if they testify in their defense. So, that about wraps up this episode of the Military Law News Network. Until next time, I’m Michael Waddington with Tim Bilecki.