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Punished despite acquittal at military sexual assault court-martial

Stars and Stripes – April 30, 2008

ucmjarticle1201632 Gonzalez & Waddington - Attorneys at Law

Regarding “Jury finds soldier not guilty of sexual assault” (article, April 20, Korea edition): The report was half right. Spc. Jason Kelling was found not guilty. This doesn’t remove the charge from my son’s criminal record, which will be a stigma for the rest of his life and especially when finding employment with any government agency. The trauma of this false claim doesn’t even begin to speak to the emotional duress and financial burden of having to be defended against a sex crime that was never committed.

Capt. Wendall Hall’s rebuttal of defense attorney Michael Waddington’s ending statement to the jury, when he gave the example that men have served time in prison and were exonerated by DNA, missed the point. Hall stated rape did occur because the DNA matched. There being DNA was never disputed. The point was DNA does not mean a rape occurred. The testimony by the alleged victim’s doctor indicated there was no trauma: bruising, cuts or tears, etc. observed during the rape kit.

Your report’s impression of the case was that my son is not guilty because the prosecutor failed to prove his case. The evidence, physical and testimonial by the “shielded victim” and her doctor, proved his innocence. She will remain unaccountable for the false claim she made.

The Army can not undo the blind eye it may have had in the past when dealing with actual rape victims. Soldiers even came up to me and shared their insight to the safety training they were required to attend the day of trial. Two-thirds of the necessary information was not taught, so of course the soldiers aren’t protected.

We are responsible for how we convey our sexual availability. Women are empowered when they, too, are held accountable for their own actions.

Since my son’s “not guilty” verdict, he has been told he will not be allowed to stay until his ETS on July 12. He is being sent home before his Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmental Information clearance can be untagged, which is critical in the field of work he is seeking with the government, and he will not be allowed to go to the Army’s transition center to look for employment.

My son is the true victim here.

Deborah Kelling

Greensboro, N.C.

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