In a comment the other day about Tom Jasper’s problem (note: I consider him a friend), someone said there was another story out there.

Could this be it.

The top Army prosecutor for sexual assault cases has been suspended after a lawyer who worked for him recently reported he’d groped her and tried to kiss her at a sexual-assault legal conference more than two years ago.

41 Responses to “The other shoe?”

  1. Lieber says:

    There is still another one.  Someone is being court-martialed….

  2. k fischer says:

    Who is facing court-martial?
    k fischer

  3. stewie says:

    Stunned does not begin to describe me right now.  Of course, it’s an allegation, nothing more at this point, so we will see how it pans out, but this is not good news at all.

  4. Dew_Process says:

    I’ve got no dog in this fight as they say, but generally speaking as a defense counsel, good, intelligent and experienced Trial Counsel make the system work so much better – even for the defense.
    But, there’s a bad odor coming from these news reports, true or not:

    The alleged assault reportedly took place in a hotel room at a 2011 sexual assault legal conference . . . .

    A female lawyer, someone ostensibly being trained to be a SVP, is in a hotel room in 2011 and is allegedly “groped” etc., but does not come forward until February 2014???  If I’m an SJA [and I have been], I’m not sure that this is the type of litigator that I want as a SVP, if leading by example is still a viable concept.
    Yes, I know, the same applies to the LTC – who I do not know.  As Stewie correctly notes, time will tell, “but this is not good news at all.”

  5. Lieber says:

    Dew_Process:  At least half the attendees at that conference were not SVPs…some of them were pretty new TCs…  And you may not want to disrupt the Bales prosecution etc….

  6. stewie says:

    Timing certainly raises questions, then again, if she “worked for him recently” as the article states, then she may not have felt comfortable coming forward until after leaving, or had some other legit reason. It’s easy to understand or counsel others to do something (report right away) much harder I would suspect when you yourself have to make that call.  If she’s telling the truth, I don’t know that I agree her late reporting makes her a bad litigator, simply a human being in a tough position.  Again, if it happened.
    Or, alternatively, it’s all baloney.  There are all sorts of valid reasons for late reporting, I’ve always believed that.  Of course, “she’s not telling the truth” is certainly one of them.  We will see, but between LTC Morse and LTC Helixon, two very respected, highly qualified military crim law experts are now being questioned (fairly or not), and that’s never a good thing.  If she’s lying, then that’s a good reason why she shouldn’t be an attorney or an officer, much less an SVP.

  7. Phil Cave says:

    OK< Lieber. I think I know which one you are referring to now.  It’s not received too much publicity.  Shaky case.
    In regard to Sinclair, the MJ has accepted his pleas, and according to the NYT

    After the judge, Col. James L. Pohl, accepted the pleas, Army prosecutors said they would dismiss two outstanding counts against General Sinclair, including an allegation of maltreatment, which centered on an accusation that he pressured another female captain to provide him with nude photographs. General Sinclair, 51, faces up to 15 years in prison on the charges and could be dismissed from the military.

  8. Phil Cave says:

    And continuing the news vein, just got this from POD, on the Gillibrand legislation.

    However, a few dogged Senators failed our service members, who risk their lives defending this nation, by blocking the bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, with a filibuster. The filibuster has condemned our families and neighbors in the military to an arbitrary and broken legal system.  A person’s boss or friends should not have the authority to decide whether a sexual assault investigation is prosecuted — and neither should a commander.

    And ABC has this piece:

  9. Lieber says:

    PC:  agreed, it’s a shaky case.  I read the 32.  but considering the prior position of the Accused….as with LTC Morse, the validity of the accusation is almost beside the point…

  10. stewie says:

    Lieber, is this someone in the Army or another branch?

  11. Do Tell says:

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  12. Lieber says:

    folks, this is the internets.  I’ve said enough.

  13. stewie says:

    Great, now I’ll be forced to wildly and inappropriately speculate.

  14. k fischer says:

    Victim blamers!!!!!  Every last one of you!  

  15. RKincaid3 says:

    I know him!!  We were in Iraq together.  OUTSTANDING officer and JAG.  I pray it is not true.  This is killing me.

  16. Some Army Guy says:

    Phil Cave says:
    March 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM  
    OK< Lieber. I think I know which one you are referring to now.  It’s not received too much publicity.  Shaky case.

    If it has received any publicity at all, I think it’s fair to report it here.  Courts-martial are ostensibly public; and an ongoing case is certainly more substantive than the “suspension pending investigation” of LTC Morse.
    Of course it would be fun to see stewie wildly and inappropriately speculate.

  17. Charlie Gittins says:

    I don’t know what is going on in these cases, but I am not excluding the possibility that there is an Army-sponsored character assassination going on where the leadership believes they have some senior officers who may not have absorbed the Kool-aid they have been incited to drink.  I am very concerned about the Helixon “recusal” or “removal” and the Army’s less than candid explanation for the change of prosecutors that ended up with a character attack by BG Wilson without hearing from Helixon.  I do not know LTC Morse, but the disclosures by the Army sources seem tactical to me.   He is named, which I think is a violation or law and regulation.  Col Pohl is not the guy to ferret out UCI; he is part of the problem.  We need some trusted agents to speak to the press to get the real story out.  If you know what is going on and you have concerns about the Army’s candor and integrity — speak up even if on condition of anonymity (which I really hate) or on background so that the reporters who know how to report of this crap can do their job. UCI is not something people generally e-mail about; it is conversations in corners and private offices and if you know something, get it to someone who can report it so that it can get thoroughly investigated for Pete’s sake.

  18. A. Dreyfus says:

    Politics should never drive justice…. But unfortunately, that is exactly what we are seeing right now, in all of these cases. For so long I was immensely proud to have been a military prosecutor. I wouldn’t prosecute for the Armed Forces again. I imagine that we will find out the name of the officer discussed above soon.

  19. k fischer says:

    I’m with Charlie.  All this stuff sounds like a conspiracy.

  20. stewie says:

    RK3, a 32 means we are near referral.  Is this involving an Army JAG? I would have thought I’d have heard about it.

  21. ArmyTC says:

    I am shocked by this. I consider LTC Morse a mentor and I’m deeply troubled by the allegation and the way it’s being handled. 

  22. Phil Cave says:

    A. Dreyfus, you’re a fine one to talk about politics driven military justice.

  23. stewie says:

    Nevermind RK3 I just realized you were talking about LTC Morse…returning to wild speculation mode.

  24. DMW says:

    I think RK3 just asserted a good-military-character defense of his comrade!

  25. RKincaid3 says:

    DMW:  Well played, Sir.  Well played.  The GS was not my intent…but great response!

  26. stewie says:

    This has now hit a lot of the blogs and other websites already…not good.

  27. RKincaid3 says:

    Yep…Mr. Cave aptly named this feed “The Other Shoe?”  That other shoe is dropping–nay, rushing, downward.  As usual, he was prescient. 

  28. Anon says:

    @Charlie Gittens, I know the case Lieber is referring to. I consider the accused a friend and mentor. But it’s his decision whether to go public, not mine. Especially in the current media environment, where the media has a preexisting narrative, he will be villified no matter what he says or what the facts actually are. 

  29. RKincaid3 says:

    I just received a call from a friend and classmate (from my JAG grad course) who needs a reference from me because he has now been accused of some manner of sex assault.  I do not believe the allegations and will travel across the country to testify live if needed.
    I am beside myself that all these phenomenal leaders, officers and lawyers with stellar records are dropping like flies simply because of an allegation.  I am reminded of the blacklisting days of the Red Scare under McCarthy and HUAC.  
    And I am distressed that so many of us, everyone, especially in this forum (including me) have accepted the fact that in this climate, the careers of the men discussed in this post, powerful and sky-ward bound as they were, are effectively dead, regardless of the outcome of a trial.  So, in response to this destructive wave of allegation-based career killings, I offer the following: a brilliant response by Edward R. Murrow, to McCarthy and his so-called House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) (which was itself an un-American activity).  I offer it because it is as accurate now as it was then:

    “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.  We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.  We will not walk in fear, one of another.  

    We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine.  And remember, that we are not descended from fearful men.  Not from men who feared to write, to associate, to speak and to defend the causes that were for the moment unpopular.  

    This is no time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve.  We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape the results. 

    We proclaim ourselves, indeed as we are, the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

    The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. 

    And whose fault is that?  Not really his.  He didn’t create the situation of fear.  He merely exploited it. And rather successfully. 

    Cassius was right.  The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

    Good night, and Good luck.”

    It is sad, but true. We really do repeat history, over and over, simply because we do not learn from it.  So, while I believe that Gillibrand’s changes are important and necessary improvements, do not confuse me with those who believe that a mere allegation is a sufficient reason to destroy everything for which one has worked.

  30. Anon says:

    ^RKincaid, you’re exactly right.  Look, some of these cases may be valid.  Neither you nor I know if LTC Morse’s case is credible or not, but for damn sure people with agendas are seizing on it.  Ditto with the piling on against LTC Helixon.
    But I strongly suspect that our mutual friend’s case is a result solely of the “refer and let a court-martial sort everything out” attitude prevalent among convening authorities and some SJAs.  And that bothers me, because if Sen. Gillibrand has her way, I’m not convinced SJAs acting like District Attorneys will make the tough calls to refer or not refer based on the evidence.  The political pressure will just shift from CAs to SJAs.

  31. A. Dreyfus says:

    The last two sentences of your comment, Anon, are spot on. Political pressure to ruthlesslessly pursue any and all sex assault allegations will merely shift from one authority to another. Also, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this climate is leading to the destruction of careers in a number of ways, not merely through the court-martial process. I find the destruction of careers through administrative processes, such as reprimands and separations board hearings, equally horrendous when they are based on allegations often unfounded following a commander’s inquiry. As this pendulum wildly swings back and forth I am also concerned that ultimately the biggest losers may be REAL sex assault victims whose allegations may again one day be dismissed and justice left unpursued.

  32. RKincaid3 says:

    Anon and A.D.:  Concur, to a point, with both of you.  The inmates are running the asylum. 
    And fundamental principles of our traditional American justice system have been disregarded simply because it is the military, governed by Congressional whim. 
    Losing one’s livelihood over a mere allegation because the system allows one to be materially and physically destroyed (due to the old catch-all euphemism of a “loss of confidence in one’s ability to lead/perform”) short of a trial on the merits is BS.   All servicemembers deserve better than this.
    Sure, we can’t discourage reporting, but we also can’t reward false allegations with unjustly destroyed careers short of a trial, under rules of evidence and law. 
    Yet, here we are doing both-in the name of politics.
    Given what is right in front of our eyes, why do we wonder why morale is not where it should be?

  33. anon says:

    Folks: Let’s not add our own conjecture and assumptions to a debate (and almost legislation) based almost exclusively on conjecture and assumptions predicated on one unfortunate case in Wilkerson.  1. We don’t know anything about possible actions against LTC Morse . . . other than he was removed from post due to allegations of sexual impropriety; 2. LTC Helixon did nothing wrong (and should not be included in the same conversation) other than maybe getting too emotionally involved in a case and letting it overwhelm him temporarily . . . if that is considering something wrong than I’ve been guilty too at some point in my life; 3. LTC Stelle and BG Wilson are continuing to prosecute the Sinclair case and, unless someone has specific knowledge otherwise, they are doing so because that is what they are obliged to do as prosecutors for the CA; and 4. when there have been actual issues of UCI of recent neither military judge nor defense counsel has hesitated to act on it, even in the face of political pressure. 

  34. RKincaid3 says:

    “they are doing so because that is what they are obliged to do as prosecutors for the CA”

    Agreed to a point… provided that they recognize that legally and ethically, the “obligation” ends when and if they lack the requisite good faith in the truth behind the charges.  A lawyer is prohibited by the canons of ethics from pursuing any case without “good faith” in the cause. 
    And that is what the speculation on this website is about.  Is there a good faith basis to go forward to a trial?  And if not, why do we allow people’s reputations and careers to be destroyed administratively, simply based upon an allegation, or based upon the fact that a prosecutor who cannot control the case may lack the requisite good faith to go forward but is prevented by the system from withdrawing out of fear of losing their careers?
    Obviously, we don’t know if that dilemma is an issue in any of these cases and with any of the people involved.  But the fact that we are possibly living in a 21st Century McCarthy Blacklist era should have people at least asking the question.  And, as is being done in this forum, people should be talking loudly about whether it is an issue at all, much less one that can (or should) be remedied.

  35. anon says:

    “But the fact that we are possibly living in a 21st Century McCarthy Blacklist era…”  The sky is falling, the sky is falling.  Seems to be the same argument that Sen. Gillibrand is making . . . just on the other side of conjecture alley.  Going to assume you wear an Army JAG crest, so LTC Stelle and BG Wilson are just a email away and reasonably sure they would be happy to hear from you if you feel they are violating their prosecutorial duties. 

  36. RKincaid3 says:

    Anon:  had I evidence of such misconduct on their part, I would indeed send that e-mail.  But I don’t.  And I did not make an allegation that they are misbehaving ethically, legally and/or morally.
    And the sky is not falling.  I am, however, like many others, discussing the fact that this utterly toxic environment not only has us destroying people based upon allegation alone, but, too, it causes us to discuss whether it is appropriate to question the motives, skills and abilities of folks like those G.O.s, who in any other environment, would simply not be questioned.  Why should their motives be questioned any more than the careers of the unconvicted are destroyed without more.
    My only concern is that we are turning on and questioning each other–actually, speculatively or both–without good reason, and worse, without proof positive.
    And that is not good for a united force.

  37. Silence of the Lambs says:

    I’m reminded of Buffalo Bill taking the senator’s daughter in Silence of the Lambs, and Dr. Lecter’s manipulation of her as a high-profile serial killer story changed from a news item to a personal tragedy for the senator.
    Many of you have service members walk in your office, or phone, or email every day to say they’re being charged or ad-sep’d etc. “why do we allow people’s reputations and careers to be destroyed administratively, simply based upon an allegation”
    I asked my counsel that same question. 
    When your reputations and careers are on the slab, where will it tickle you?

  38. RKincaid3 says:

    SOTL:   Amen.  It is sooooooo time for much needed change.  As we are so oft reminded by those who find it convenient to say “this ain’t your daddy’s military, any more,” then it is well nigh time to apply that axiom to the whole of military life, including the UCMJ. It is not just a lamentation for how things have changed for the worse, but can be applied to how things have improved.  Not all change is bad, and most is necessary, at least to some degree.

  39. Real War says:

    I am concerned that people of forgotten or perhaps do not know why we have an armed forces.  Are we here to provide good Americans opportunity, a good job, a home, college money, and a nice pension after 20 years?  Now we seemed more concerned about priorities.  Now we have to exist to allow homosexuals to feel normal and accepted.  Now some women want previously restricted combat jobs at the height of the perceived sexual assault syndrome.  Women (and men for that matter) have a right to serve in any job and be free from being a victim of a crime, but now it appears that the system is being set up to prosecute sexual assaults without regard to whether the alleged victim is telling the truth or not.  There is strain due to budget issues, hiring freezes, and personnel cuts.  SHARP is one area that seems immune to austerity and my unit had four full-day SHARP stand-down days in addition to other training and the online requirements.  The multiple stand-down days is just silly, but the more serious issue is that the Army leadership and most others do not see the “witch hunt” nature of the current SHARP program.  These multiple stand-down days, other training and propaganda, and actual UCIs (there are UCI incidents whether everyone agrees there is or not) taint the panels so that more members are more likely to vote for a finding of guilty at all courts-martial.  Also consider that the CAs pick the panels and a finding of guilty need not be unanimous.  Unlike the civilian system, no indictment is required.  Instead we have the Article 32 investigation, whose result can be ignored if the result is recommendation that the accused should not be court-martialed.  Add to this rules of evidence that restricts relevant evidence that could show reasonable doubt, but becomes liberal in allowing in evidence for the prosecution.  If this was not enough, victims now have their own attorneys that now have standing to participate in court despite the fact that in a typical criminal trial that the alleged victim is merely a witness until and unless the accused is convicted.  This system is certainly slanted and the road bumps that keep questionable cases from going to trial are being removed.  Commanders simply refer cases to court-martial that they may not have just a couple of years ago.  This means that the discretion at the front end is not being fully exercised, thus sending questionable cases to a trial that is more likely than not to convict.  Commanders, senior officers, and senior NCOs all present a common front solidarity for the SHARP program and no one wants to be seen as saying they do not support everything that is happening.  It reminds me of that clip in Baghdad where Saddam Hussein accused random members of parliament of treason and had them pulled out and arrested.  At that point, other members stood up and started shouting “Saddam is Great!” over and over.  They were scared and happy that it was not them whose name had been called.  Everyone simply had to say “Saddam is Great!”  Our new SHARP focus is more subtle and does have a good intent of reducing sexual assaults.  This is something that all reasonable people should support, so it is so easy to support the SHARP program and not do anything to get out of step.  A few commanders who exercise their UCMJ discretion in a manner that does not fit the new expectations will find themselves at the end of their career.  The balance is basically taken out of the checks and balances.  This does not mean that everyone accused of sexual assault will be tried and convicted, but it does mean that there will be many courts-martial that would not have otherwise been referred and a very high conviction rate.  Some speculate that the flood of questionable cases will cause the conviction rate to go down, we will just have to wait and see what history (or the future) shows about these numbers.  What history will show is that all of these factors combined to destroy the UCMJ as we know it.  It may take a while before enough people understand this and enough data becomes available to statistically analyze what really happened.  From this mass hysteria we may have something similar to the Salem witch trials and the advent of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) that plagued the Audi despite the fact that this was ultimately determined to be driver error.  When we ask how we could allow this to happen, we will be able to see that it is the result of politics, mass hysteria, UCI, overreactions, and prosecutors taking advantage of a fragile UCMJ that was pushed too far.  UCI is the mortal enemy of the military justice system for a reason.
    Back to the point of a real war.  If the U.S. were involved in a real war, then priorities would have to change.   We have been too busy worrying with nation building, ROEs, applying laws of war to criminals, homosexuals, spouses of homosexuals, and SHARP.  I wonder how the Army in China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Russia handle these issues.  Probably the same way we would handle these issues if we were in a real war.  And it if were bad enough we would need everyone we could to join the fight, perhaps even the homosexuals, women, and anyone else who can pull a trigger.  If everyone had a gun, there would probably be less SHARP issues.  Yes indeed, things would be a whole lot different if we had a real war, not one of those invisible wars.  

  40. A. Dreyfus says:

    Real war… I wish I could contact you directly to discuss what you wrote. Bottlomline? Bravo.

  41. Real Wat says:

    Dreyfus – I will send an e-mail to Phil Cave and you can ask him who I am.