Army Fort Jackson Trainee Arrested After Allegedly Hijacking a School Bus Full of Children

Cars approach the gate at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Cars approach the gate at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (U.S. Army photo)

An Army trainee was arrested Thursday morning in South Carolina after allegedly hijacking a school bus with 18 students onboard. Law enforcement officials say he’ll now face multiple kidnapping charges.

The trainee, armed with a rifle and dressed in physical training gear, allegedly boarded a school bus that was headed to Forest Lake Elementary in Columbia, South Carolina, after fleeing Fort Jackson, a nearby basic training base, at about 7 a.m. The trainee told the bus driver he didn’t want to hurt him, but needed a ride to the next town, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said during a Thursday morning press conference.

The children and the driver were eventually able to get off the bus unharmed.

“The bus driver started driving, and the trainee brought the kids to the front of the bus,” Lott said. “The kids started asking lots of questions to the suspect about whether he was going to hurt them or the bus driver. The suspect got a little frustrated.”

Advertisement

The bus then stopped, and the kids and driver exited the vehicle. Lott said the Fort Jackson trainee then started driving the bus, but had trouble controlling it. He eventually fled on foot, leaving the rifle on the bus, according to Lott.

“[He] went through neighborhoods trying to get rides, trying to get clothes,” he said. Police soon caught up with the suspect; Lott said he was in his third week of training at Fort Jackson and was “arrested without incident.”

“He’ll be charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and whatever charges we can put on him,” Lott added.

The entire incident lasted about an hour. The needs of the students involved are being addressed, Lott said.

“You can just imagine they were scared to death, along with that bus driver,” he said. “I will give the bus driver credit — he kept his cool. He didn’t overreact. He didn’t get excited. He kept his cool enough that kept the situation calm. And I will tell you his main concern was the safety of those kids, and he did his job.”

Officials at Fort Jackson said they were aware of the incident involving the trainee and were working closely with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department to respond. No additional details about the trainee or the events leading up to the bus hijacking were provided by the Army.

Baron Davis, superintendent of Richland School District, said receiving the phone call about an armed man hijacking a school bus was horrifying.

“I’ve never been as scared in my life,” he said. “… every child is a precious child to all of us, and it was one of the … scariest phone calls — so many emotions.”

Lott said the initial call his department received was about a man trying to wave down cars on Interstate 77. A parent of one of the children on the bus later flagged down a deputy to alert them that an armed man was on the school bus.

The trainee got onto the bus at Percival Road while it was stopped to pick up children, Lott said.

Gen. Arnold Bunch

For the First Time in History an Air Force General will face a Court Martial

United States Air Force seal.

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Gen. Arnold Bunch, the commander of the Air Force Material Command, announced Wednesday that Maj. Gen. William Cooley of the AFMC is headed to court-martial on a sexual assault charge. The decision marks the first time an Air Force general has faced such a trial, Military.com reports.

Bunch said “this was not a decision made lightly,” but he believes it was the right call after reviewing “all of the evidence from the investigation” and a preliminary hearing.

Cooley, the former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, has been accused of making “unwanted sexual advances by kissing and touching a female victim,” who is not a service member or Defense Department employee, in August 2018, Military.com reports. A charge sheet from last November obtained by Military.com provided more specific details about the off-duty incident, including the accusation that Cooley kissed the woman on the mouth without her consent.

Spangdahlem airman gets three years in jail for driving drunk and killing German father of three

An airman at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, was sentenced April 26, 2021, to three years in jail for driving drunk and killing a local German man, and injuring another in a car wreck two years ago.

JENNIFER H. SVAN/STARS AND STRIPES

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: April 27, 2021

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — A night of heavy drinking with fellow airmen that ended in a deadly car crash two years ago has landed a Spangdahlem airman in jail for three years and ended his military career.

Senior Airman Jade A. Westmoreland was sentenced after pleading guilty to negligent homicide and related charges at a Spangdahlem court-martial Monday before military judge Col. Charles Wiedie.

Westmoreland also received a bad-conduct discharge and a reduction to E-1.

The senior airman admitted to being drunk behind the wheel on April 20, 2019, when he veered into the opposite lane and collided with a car carrying two local German men.

Kevin Schneider died at the scene of the wreck near Speicher, a village about seven miles southwest of Spangdahlem. His cousin, Pascal Mayer, sustained serious injuries.

“He was a happy guy,” Schneider’s mother, Petra Marx, said about her only son in tearful testimony. “He was helpful. He loved playing soccer and he loved his family.”

Schneider was married with two daughters and a son on the way.

Westmoreland, assigned to the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, apologized to the victims and their families.

He faced a maximum of six years in jail based on his guilty pleas to the charges, which also included reckless endangerment, and driving a vehicle while drunk and causing injury. A fourth charge of involuntary manslaughter was withdrawn as part of the plea agreement.

Prosecutors asked for a minimum of four years.

“This wasn’t a freak accident,” said Capt. Cynthia McGrath, a military lawyer for the government. “Every single decision the accused made that night put him in that car in the wrong lane.”

The victims and their families “deserve more than an apology,” she said.

Westmoreland told the judge he went out the evening before the crash with other airmen after working a long shift that was part of a base exercise.

He estimated consuming about seven mixed drinks and additional whiskey shots over five hours.

Prosecutors filled in more detail, describing how Westmoreland and his friends had several rounds before going to Kajutes, a bar a few minutes drive from the base.

A nearly empty whiskey bottle was later recovered in Westmoreland’s car, prosecutors said.

Most of the airmen in Westmoreland’s group took a taxi home around 3 a.m. But Westmoreland told the judge he couldn’t afford a taxi because of expenses from a recent off-base move.

He said he stayed at the bar drinking with “Sergeant Brown,” who was described in court as Westmoreland’s supervisor.

Westmoreland drove Brown home around 5:30 a.m. and sat in his Volvo S40 talking with him in his driveway. When Brown didn’t invite him to stay over, Westmoreland said he continued driving but pulled over and passed out for about 90 minutes.

That Westmoreland gave an airman “two ranks above him” a ride home should be a mitigating factor in sentencing, his defense attorney said. It was unclear Monday whether Brown was disciplined for letting Westmoreland drive drunk.

The crash happened around 8 a.m., a few minutes after Westmoreland got back on the road. His speed was estimated at 52 mph.

Prosecutors said Westmoreland’s blood alcohol content was .109 a few hours later at the hospital, and approximately .19 at the time of the crash. The legal limit in Germany is .05.

Westmoreland recalled hearing a “huge crash sound” and seeing “red dust.”

McGrath said Mayer, who was driving the other car, tried to swerve, but there was nothing he could do. Westmoreland’s car “obliterated the right side of his car,” she said, adding Schneider “never stood a chance.”

Mayer has had multiple surgeries to repair a fractured arm and has not recovered full use of one of his hands, according to court testimony. He still suffers from anxiety when driving, he wrote in a victim impact statement.

Nellis airman who pleaded guilty to gun, drug trafficking faces prison, discharge

[Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include results of the airman’s recent court-martial.]

A former master sergeant assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., faces the prospect of life in prison after pleading guilty to federal gun and drug trafficking charges, the Justice Department said this week.

Michael Reimers, 41, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of distributing a controlled substance and one count of engaging in the business of selling firearms without a license, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.

A military judge also found Reimers guilty in a general court-martial on March 11, a Nellis spokesperson said Thursday. His sentence: 84 months of confinement, a six-grade demotion from master sergeant to airman basic, and a dishonorable discharge.

Reimers was arrested in September 2019 after spending about two months offering to sell “numerous firearms to various buyers, including an AK-47, a .26 caliber handgun, and a 12-gauge shotgun,” DOJ said. “In addition, on July 23, 2019, Reimers sold methamphetamine to an individual for $800.”

Reimers, who was not a licensed firearms dealer, allegedly sold the shotgun to someone living in the U.S. illegally, and had trafficked cocaine on top of more than 50 grams of meth, the federal government said.

DOJ will move to dismiss two remaining charges at the sentencing hearing, scheduled for July 13, Trisha Young at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada told Air Force Times Thursday. Reimers faced a second count of distributing a controlled substance and one count of selling a firearm to a prohibited person.

Reimers could serve a maximum sentence of life in prison, a lifetime of supervised release, and a $10.3 million fine, according to DOJ. He was placed in custody pending the hearing, Young said.

The Nellis spokesperson said Thursday they were still working to confirm Reimers’ whereabouts.

Reimers joined the Air Force in 2000 and had attained the rank of master sergeant at the time of his arrest, Air Force Times previously reported. In 2019, the Air Force Personnel Center said he worked in the spectrum operations field and was a transmissions section chief in Nellis’s 99th Communications Squadron.

The Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation in partnership with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Henderson Police Department, and Nellis law enforcement.

Army Special Forces colonel found NOT GUILTY of Sexual Assault

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) — Special Forces Col. KR is a free man after being found not guilty on all charges. After a three day trial, the jury found him not guilty on all five sexual
Col. Kevin M. Russell was acquitted of sexual assault charges Thursday. (Army)

A 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. KR not guilty of sexually assaulting an Air Force captain who was on the same deployment with him in 2015 to Pakistan.

“We did have faith that the military panel would come to the right decision. We knew what evidence we had and what the truth was. We’re pleased with the verdict,” said defense attorney Michael Waddington. “The government’s two-star witnesses were people known for lying, pathological lying and manipulation. They both have lied under oath repeatedly.”

The accuser, an Air Force reservist, took the stand Wednesday in Fort Bragg’s second judiciary circuit court. She admitted to the court that she hung out with KR, planned KR’s farewell party and had sexual relations with him several times after the alleged sexual assault.

The pair worked together at the U.S. Embassy.

KR, 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.

Maj. Stacy Gutarz Cohen, who represented the prosecution, repeated the woman’s testimony in which she alleged that she went to an establishment with KR on June 5, 2015, and could not remember much from that night after having two drinks that KR brought her.

The woman alleged that she woke to KR having sex with her.

KR 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 KR 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 KR 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 KR kiss her.

KR 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 KR 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.

Waddington questioned why she provided  text messages to investigators from March, April, May and July between her and KR 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.”

Marine Corps general fired for calling sexual harassment claims “fake news”

by Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY – April 16, 2018

Click here for the original article.

Brig. Gen. Kurt SteinWASHINGTON — The Marine Corps on Monday fired the general in charge of its sexual assault prevention and response efforts for remarks he made at a public meeting disparaging claims of sexual harassment at his command as “fake news.”

Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein was removed as director of Marine and Family Programs by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller after an investigation of his comments on April 6. USA TODAY reported that Stein had referred to allegations of sexual harassment at the Quantico, Va., base as “fake news,” and joked that he lived vicariously through a Navy chaplain recently fired for having sex in public.

The Marines also received an anonymous tip about his comments, which were made before hundreds of Marines and civilian employees under Stein’s command at an “all-hands” meeting.

“After reviewing the investigation, Neller determined that he lost confidence in Stein’s ability to lead this particular organization, and Stein has been removed and reassigned,” according to a statement from the Marine Corps. “Leaders are responsible for establishing an environment conducive to mission accomplishment.”

Removal for loss of confidence typically kills the career of a general officer.

After the story appeared in February, Neller ordered a new investigation of their claims. That probe is ongoing.

Several times during his talk on April 6, Stein called the story “fake news,” a derisive term regularly used by President Trump to dismiss negative news articles. Stein also made a joking reference to Navy chaplain Loften Thornton, who was fired in March. Thornton had been caught on video having sex outside a bar in New Orleans, USA TODAY learned.

Neller has struggled over the last year to change cultural problems in his ranks. A year ago, news broke of the Marines United scandal, in which a private Facebook group of current and former Marines shared often-explicit photos of women without their consent. Several Marines have been court-martialed, while others have received a lesser punishment. It also prompted a new policy on social media use.

In February, Neller fired his top liaison to Congress, Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling, after the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to investigate allegations that he had created a hostile work environment.

Stein’s comments damaged the reputation of Marine Corps leadership to handle issues of sexual harassment and assault, said Scott Jensen, a retired Marine colonel and the CEO of Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy group that called for Stein’s firing.

“This decision validates the severity and negative influence of such egregious actions on the part of a general officer,” Jensen said. “People lost confidence in the genuine commitment of the Marine Corps leadership to make a significant and lasting change and they will need to double down to gain trust.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said,“I applaud Commandant Neller’s swift action, but let’s see if Brigadier General Stein will leave with his full rank and pension.”

Two Women #MeToo Navy SEAL Officer

U.S. v. Navy O-3 –Naval Base Coronado, CA – tried at Naval Base San Diego, CA

weaponizing the #metoo movement
Before #MeToo was a movement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was advocating for “victims’ rights” and attacking men — in the military, on campus, and in her own party.

Allegations: 6 Specifications of Article 120 Rape/Sexual Assault – Two Alleged Victims
Max Punishment: 120 years in prison, Dismissal, Sex offender registration
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
Sentence: NONE
Discharge: NONE
Location/Branch/Rank: Naval Base Coronado, San Diego, CA/Navy/O-3

Navy SEAL acquitted in rape case – Click here to read the news article.

Summary: 

Our client, a Navy SEAL officer, was accused of raping two women that allegedly did not know each other. Both “victims” were attractive white women with professional careers. Both were heavily coached by the Navy’s top prosecutor.

How it All Began…

inappropriate touch

“Victim One” was a 38-year-old physician’s assistant. She met our client on Bumble, a dating app. She worked as a surgeon at a local hospital. She was well educated, physically fit, and well spoken.

Victim One claimed that she went to our client’s apartment because they were going out for drinks. She told the police that when she entered his apartment, he assaulted her. For four hours, she fought him off and he eventually raped her. The next day, she filed an official report with the San Diego Police Department. She went to the hospital where a nurse conducted a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE). Afterward, Victim One called our client and recorded the phone call. Our client denied assaulting her and told her that he was sorry that she was upset.

Then, Victim One encouraged another woman, Victim Two, to claim that our client raped her as well. The defense did not learn of this fact until right before trial.

The second woman was also a professional woman that was attractive and well spoken. This was a challenge for the defense because male jurors tend to believe attractive female witnesses, especially if they are the victim. Needless to say, our client faced an uphill battle.

The Link – a Frog Hog & Local Gossip

Frog hog

It was crucial that we found some link between the two women. We used a private investigator, but he found nothing. As the trial date approached, we caught a break. The women had a mutual friend that was a Navy SEAL groupie (a “frog hog” as known by locals) and a local San Diego gossip. She connected the two when she learned that both knew our client. Behind the scenes, this Frog Hog played a key role in fanning the flames and trying to push the case forward.

According to Urban Dictionary: A “Frog Hog” is “a slutty woman whose primary goal is to get her hooks into a Navy SEAL.”

“A Frog Hog is an obsessive woman who will do anything just to be associated with Navy SEALs. Frog Hogs use the internet to find every Navy SEAL possible on Facebook, past or present, and “like” and comment on every single thing that any Navy SEAL posts on their profile, and do so with an enormous degree of ass kissing. They also read through everyone’s comments on that particular SEAL’s profile and can figure out who other Navy SEALs are by creeping on their Facebook pages. They then friend request those men and exhibit the same kind of behavior. They also get overly dramatic in facebook arguments, and give their opinions when no one asked them to in the first place, and get extremely defensive over the SEALs that they stalk, even though they may have never met or barely know these men, yet act like they are best friends.”

#MeToo Movement

#metooAfter they got connected, Victim One tried to convince Victim Two to accuse our client of rape. In one text, Victim One wrote, “We are stronger together.” Their text messages talked about the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein, and defeating “rape culture” in America.

Navy Press Release

After the Command preferred charges, someone in the Navy leaked negative information to the media. The press went on to smear our client’s name leading up to the trial.

Before trial, the Military Judge ruled that we could not use much of the MRE 412 evidence that exposed the alleged victims. Thus, we were fighting with one arm tied behind our back and the jury was not able to get the full picture of who these women were.

As far as the jury knew, they were angels, which was far from the truth.

Trial By Jury

Frog hog - Mr. Waddington's client
Mr. Waddington, our client, his family, & his SEAL buddies celebrate our victory at the Top of the Hyatt in San Diego.

Our client demanded a jury trial and we prepared for battle. The Navy assigned a female Commander (O-5), one of the most experienced prosecutors in the Naval Service, to try the case.

The challenge we faced was cross-examining these seemingly credible women. Both were well coached by the prosecution. Both took the stand and told their harrowing accounts of rape. Many witnesses testified against our client, including an NCIS agent, a digital forensic expert, a sex assault forensic examiner, and a San Diego Sex Crime Investigator. On cross-examination, the defense tore them apart.

After the government’s last witness, the defense rested and called no witnesses. The jury deliberated for an entire day before delivering a verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.

After the verdict, Mr. Waddington joined his client, his family, and his SEAL buddies for drinks at the Top of the Hyatt in San Diego.

Client Acquitted after SJA Rejects Offer to Resign with an OTH Discharge

U.S. v. Air Force O-3 – Los Angeles Air Force Base, Los Angeles, CA

Allegations: Wrongful Use of Cocaine – Article 112a, False Official Statement – Article 107
Max Punishment: 10 years in prison, Dismissal
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
Sentence: NONE
Discharge: NONE
Location/Branch/Rank: Los Angeles Air Force Base, Los Angeles, CA/Air Force/O-3

Summary: 

Los Angeles air force base cocaine
Mr. Waddington with co-counsel celebrating our acquittal with our client, her family, and her supporters.

Our client was charged with using cocaine on several occasions and with lying on a Top Secret security clearance form. She faced 10 years in prison, a Federal Felony Drug Conviction, and a Dismissal. The prosecution had a 2-hour video of her alleged confession to OSI and a supposed handwritten OSI “confession.” OSI is shady, so we had to attack their investigation and show their bias and incompetence.

OSI then dug up dozens of her friends and was able to bully a few officers into testifying against her. The prosecution refused any type of plea deal as well as a resignation with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. They forced us to trial. The Government was so confident that they would win that the SJA was talking trash to Mr. Waddington before the trial.

Left with no options and ready to fight, Mr. Waddington and his ADC co-counsel, Capt Stuart Saylor, took the fight to the Government and fought all charges in front of an officer jury. At the end of the trial, Mr. Waddington and Capt Saylor went out for drinks, our client and her father included.

RESULT: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES. Click here to read what our client had to say about our representation.

False Allegations, Collusion, & Corruption

U.S. v. Navy E-7 – NAS Oceana, Virginia – tried at NAS Norfolk

Original Allegations: Sexual assault x 2 victims, Assault Consummated by Battery, Obstructing Justice, various other offenses
Max Punishment: 30+ years in prison, Dishonorable Discharge/BCD, Sex offender registration, Loss of Retirement
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
Sentence: NONE
Discharge: NONE
Location/Branch/Rank: NAS Oceana, Virginia – tried at NAS Norfolk/Navy/E-7

Summary: 

The morning of closing arguments outside of my hotel in Virginia Beach Town Center.

Our client was a mobilized Navy Reserve Chief (Chief X). He was assigned to a sexual assault task force. When he arrived at his unit, Chief X met a female Chief, (“Chief Victim”). They immediately began a sexual relationship. At the time, Chief Victim was married. However, she told our client and everyone in the unit that she was divorced. Meanwhile, she was collecting BAH. During the affair, Chief Victim was trying to become a Naval Officer. While she was committing adultery, her officer application was being processed.

Six weeks into the affair, our client dumped Chief Victim.

The breakup caused problems in the office as people spread rumors and took sides. Many of the females in the office shunned our client. Four months after he dumped her, Chief Victim accused our client of sexual assault. She claimed that he attacked her in the middle of the night as she slept.

Chief Victim then convinced her best friend, another E-7, to join in the investigation, as a second “victim.”

The second woman told NCIS that our client sexually assaulted her at a dance club.

NCIS – Biased and Incompetent

NCIS launched an investigation and spent most of their time trying to find more women to accuse our client. They did not look into the history of the alleged victim. Instead, they tried to entrap our client with a recorded phone call and texting.

Overzealous Prosecution

Working out with Onnit.com Steel Clubs after court. Swinging the heavy clubs relieve stress and help me focus during hard-fought cases.

Leading the charge was an overzealous Marine prosecutor with a flat top and a constant scowl. (Note: In 2016, Mr. Waddington did battle with this same Marine prosecutor on another case. In that case, the Judge dismissed the case for Unlawful Command Influence.)

In this case, NCIS and the prosecution spent 2 years smearing our client’s name. They interviewed dozens of women, trying to get them to accuse Chief X of crimes. Then, they targeted our client’s family. The prosecutor and his minion paralegal injected themselves into our client’s child custody case. The custody case had nothing to do with the NCIS investigation.

To hurt our client, the Marine prosecution team improperly fed Chief X’s ex-wife confidential information from the NCIS report, much of which was false or in dispute. His ex-wife was not entitled to this information. But, she used it to get the upper hand and blocked Chief X from seeing his young son for 18 months.

As our client’s life was torn apart, Chief Victim got commissioned as a Naval Officer. The Navy forgave her adultery, lying, and other misconduct.

Don’t Trust “the System”

All this time, Chief X had faith in the system. After 22 years of unblemished service, he thought the Navy would “do the right thing.” He was wrong.

After a lengthy investigation, the Navy charged our client with sexual assault, assault, obstruction of justice, and other charges. The case was referred to a Special Court Martial which lowered the max to 1 year and a BCD. At this point, they planned to convict him and take his retirement.

Then, the Navy gave our client a Coast Guard lawyer with almost no experience as a defense lawyer. This lawyer told Chief X that he had no chance of success at trial and tried to force him to plead guilty.

This Coast Guard lawyer was the prosecutor from US v. Josi, a case that Mr. Waddington successfully defended in 2017. In that case, she committed UCI when she conspired with CGIS to put a key defense witness on the Terrorist No Fly List. They did this by intentionally giving the US State Department false and misleading information. Their goal was to prevent the witness from flying to the USA to testify in our client’s defense. Here is the Judge’s ruling in that case. The witness then sued the US Government. Here is the link to that case.

Hiring a Civilian Lawyer – Firing Military Defense Counsel

Finally, in Sept 2017, Chief X hired our firm. The first thing we told him to do was to fire his Coast Guard defense lawyer.

false allegations
Celebrating our victory with a beer at the Yard House in Virginia Beach, VA.

Then, the Navy assigned LT Claire Rumler and LT Justin Bass to defend Chief X along with Mr. and Mrs. Waddington. Rumler and Bass were smart, aggressive, and motivated to fight. Together, we mounted a hard-hitting defense that exposed the Government’s witch hunt. Meanwhile, the Marine prosecutor was replaced with a new Marine prosecutor.

The Destructive Power of Cross-Examination

At trial, Mr. Waddington hammered the prosecution’s witnesses on cross-examination. We exposed their lies and NCIS’s incompetency. Through cross-examination, we showed how the corrupt command targeted our client.

After battering the prosecution for two days, their case was in tatters. The defense called no witnesses, presented no evidence, and rested.

The jury deliberated for 80 minutes and acquitted our client of all charges.

Finally, Chief X can return home and raise his son.

Salvadorian Soap Opera: a Green Beret, a Communist Dictator, & a Housekeeper

U.S. v. Army E-8 – SOUTHCOM, Miami, FL/El Salvador tried at Fort Sam Houston, TX

President Funes & his mistress Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza
President Funes & his mistress Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza.

Allegations: Rape x 2 Specifications, Forcible Oral & Anal Sodomy x 4 Specifications
Max Punishment: 2 Life Sentences + 40 years in prison, Dishonorable Discharge, Sex offender registration, Loss of Retirement
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
Sentence: NONE
Discharge: NONE
Location/Branch/Rank: SOUTHCOM, Miami, FL/El Salvador/tried at Fort Sam Houston, TX/Army/E-8

NCIS Teams Up with a Corrupt Regime & Tries to Convict Special Forces Veteran

Since the 1980s, the USA has worked with El Salvador to confront terrorism, drug trafficking, and human rights abuses. In 2009, Mauricio Funes was elected President. Funes is an anti-American communist. In many of his speeches, he bashes the United States.

In 2017, Funes was convicted of various crimes, including corruption. He then fled to Honduras with his mistress, Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza, the Kim Kardashian of El Salvador.

During his reign, the United States gave the country over $119 million a year in Federal Aid. As part of that aid, the Salvadorian President reluctantly agreed to have a small US military footprint. Despite the aid, US/Salvadorian relationship was at a historic low. The President took US money but did not want US involvement. After his election, the US Special Forces footprint in El Salvador was reduced to one man, our client. Our client was not a welcome guest.

The Housekeeper

Our client was a Special Forces E-8 that worked as an advisor to a covert Salvadorian Special Forces Unit.

Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza - Not the Housekeeper
Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza – Not the Housekeeper

When he moved to El Salvador, he was given a small house on the Salvadorian base. Soon after arriving, he interviewed a local Salvadorian housekeeper and hired her to clean his house. This woman was connected to the El Salvadorian Army and knew many soldiers on the base.

After he hired her, they had sex. He drove her home, off base, and they parted ways. The housekeeper was supposed to report for work the next morning. Later that evening, the housekeeper called and tried to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. She wanted more money and fewer hours of work. Our client told her “no” and said that if she was not at work the next day at 0600 hours, then she was fired. The woman called back and argued for more money. Then, our client fired her. This was the woman’s only employment and she was paid a good wage in US currency, especially compared to local housekeepers.

Blame the Yankee: An International Incident

The woman got upset and told her husband that an American soldier “me abuso.” Her husband then beat and raped her to reclaim his honor (this came out in court on cross-examination). The woman then called the Salvadorian base commander, a Colonel, and asked him for help getting her job back. She told the Colonel that the American “me abuso.” The woman was interviewed by multiple people and the story grew over time. Then, the US Embassy and Salvadorian government got involved. The case involved the highest levels of the Salvadorian government and US State Department as calls to arrest and prosecute the American soldier grew. As rumors spread and local soldiers were interviewed, the situation spiraled out of control. Our client’s life was in danger and he was secretly evacuated from El Salvador at night.

NCIS Mauricio Funes
Aerial view of the Salvadorian Commando Base that we used at trial.

When NCIS showed up, they interviewed the woman. However, their Spanish speaking skills were poor. In their interview, the woman told NCIS that the American “me abuso.” In their report, NCIS wrote that our client violently raped and sodomized her. Later, the woman described the incident as a violent bloody struggle. NCIS took her to see a Salvadorian doctor who did a Rape Test kit. In the examination, the doctor allegedly found injuries to the vagina and anus. The doctor pinned the injuries on our client and claimed that the husband could not have caused the injuries, “because they were married.”

In the NCIS report, there was physical evidence, DNA, and numerous witnesses ready and willing to hang our client. The El Salvadoran Government wanted our client in jail. To appease the Salvadorans, the American Government spared no expense to win this case. It became an international incident between the US & El Salvador and their government used it to prove that Americans are bad. Losing this case was not an option for the US Government.

Before this case went to trial, the US Government tried to make amends by hiring the alleged victim to work at the US Embassy.

Our Client Passed Polygraph

militarydefenseattorneys9.59.48 PM copy

After the investigation started, our client took and passed a polygraph and provided evidence to prove his innocence to the US Government. SOUTHCOM disregarded all of his evidence and fought to suppress it at trial. They wanted to make an example out of this soldier and gain favor with El Salvador by sacrificing one of their own.

To gain an upper hand, the prosecution denied almost all defense witnesses. However, they flew up numerous Salvadoran witnesses and Americans from across the USA to testify against our client. They also brought the Salvadoran doctor who fought Mr. Waddington on every question, even simple ones.

At trial, the Army translator was not a native Spanish speaker. During the testimony, he improperly paraphrased the “victim’s” testimony and misinterpreted multiple words and phrases. Mr. Waddington and several jurors spoke Spanish and we caught and corrected his mistakes.

To further stack the deck, the Army appointed one of the top Special Victim Prosecutors (SVP) in the DoD. Then, they brought in a nationally known civilian prosecutor and expert in sexual assault prosecutions (similar to Nancy Grace) to work with the prosecution and get a conviction.

Mr. Waddington and Captain Dustin Murphy, along with legendary DNA expert, Dean Wideman, mounted a defense for our client with limited resources. Our client testified in his defense and crushed the prosecutor on cross-examination. We proved that the alleged victim was a hustler and liar, her husband raped her, and that the DNA evidence proved our client’s innocence.

RESULT: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES

Scroll to Top