…and the results aren’t pretty.


Our previous mentions of the case are here and here.

54 Responses to “The Washington Post investigates a court-martial prosecution for sexual assault…”

  1. k fischer says:

    Why did I not see that coming? Quite a Twist at the end.

  2. Burt Macklin says:

    Just so I am tracking on this:  a USMC Field Grade Officer that was serving as faculty at USNA was pounding out a Midshipman, which we can all agree is a wildly unprofessional relationship.  It also appears he lied about that.  Regardless of the whole 120 element of this, is anyone saying this dirtbag is somehow innocent and worthy of his commission as a Major of Marines or retirement? 

  3. k fischer says:

    What I gathered was that he was christening her as an ensign post graduation.  And whether or not he lied at the board is in the grey area because he thought they were asking about fraternization when she was a Mid, which he clearly wasn’t.  Right?  Why was by Stadler charged with aiding and abetting a rape?

  4. Monday morning QB says:

    not to mention that you know I have a sitting judge at in NMCCA who appears to have made a very questionable statement as a witness during a board of inquiry. Some might call it perjury.

  5. Monday morning QB says:

    what about a sitting judge at NMCCAs testimony at the board? His testimony: “we called the mother and brother and they corroborated that she left that night.” The mother and brother say they were never contacted. Then a spokesman for it MCCA saying that his testimony was “to the best of his recollection at the time.” Methinks there’s going to be an investigation into this.

  6. Lieber says:

    I’m guessing k fischer is being facetious about not seeing the twist coming at the end.  Lieber’s Rule of Thumb #1: People always lie about sex.  Lieber’s Rule of Thumb #2: There is always more illicit sex going on than you think.  Which is why there is nothing wrong with adopting a general rule of skepticism toward sexual assault allegations.  See RoT#1.  Why you should never believe anything anyone says on the witness stand in a case involving sex (consensual or nonconsensual).  See RoT#1 and RoT#2.

  7. Thewritesofweiss says:

    I’m confused. Was there a threesome? If so, was it consensual or not? Why did this guy lick a gift horse in the mouth? Or whatever the right expression is. He survived the BOI. Had he not pursued going to the press, this would all be behind him now. I’m not feeling terribly sorry for him.

  8. Abe Froman says:

    i don’t feel sorry for him in the least. What a nightmare of a client; I can imagine that he kept his misdeeds from them as well.  Unfortunately there are clients who are railroaded…just not him.
    He did all of this preening when he knew that he was 100% guilty of what he was found guilty of at trial. He started believing his own BS!
    As far as the TC statements go, I am sure there is more context there that would explain the statement.

  9. afjagcapt says:

    What’s the saying? Sometimes bad things happen to bad people?

  10. K fischer says:

    I would imagine that the ménage happened, but was consensual.  The Mids talked about going over to his house.  They were probably hooking up on the DL anyways.  So they gain entrance through the subterfuge of “using the head.”   Once inside, the Mids engage in an innocent tickle fight, which leads to making out, then shirts start coming off, puppies start breathing the crisp spring air, and he gets invited in.  That would break almost any single man.
    When I was an instructor at the Infantry School, no OCS candidate knew my cell number or my address.    
    Did Rugh lie?  Did Thompson lie?  Apparently all Officers lie.  There was a study about it a while back.  Bygones.

  11. K fischer says:

    *****I would imagine that if the ménage happened, then it was consensual.  That “say anything and everything” text and the response of “Ha” strongly goes against there being a rape or maybe even a ménage.  Women will make up rape allegations because they are bored.  Students will say they are having sex with an instructor because he gave them a bad grade.  These things happen.

  12. DCGoneGalt says:

    You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes to shovel BS by going to the Washington Post after you’ve dodged a bullet . . . . you get what you deserve. 
    I believe it was Shakespeare who once said “cry me a river”  . . . but it may have been Justin Timberlake. 

  13. stewie says:

    Talking about burying the lede.  The paper not the Major.
    Well, also the Major.

  14. Chuck Bass says:

    K fischer – your blatantly misogynist screeds seriously harm the level of discourse on this website.   I’m sure you can make similar points (false allegations do occur) without demeaning women in such a broad-stroke fashion.

  15. k fischer says:

    I find the prosecution of a Marine Major for fraternization and rape, while not applying the same UCMJ articles to Ensign Stadtler an example of misandry.  I am be no means a misogynist, but rather, fancy myself a philogynist and a realist. 
    It sounds like the panel got it right by using their knowledge of how things work in the world.  My comments above, while unvarnished, portray the way things work in the world.  And, I will continue to do what you describe as a screed (had to look that one up) because I am not afraid to state how things work in the world in terms and examples that are easy to understand.

  16. stewie says:

    kf, couple of quibbles:
    1. When the misconduct was going on, she wasn’t even an Ensign was she?  Seems to me it’s quite fair to hold a cadet and a Field Grade Officer to different consequences for similar misconduct.  In fact, he’s going to get a retirement (unless they go after for FOS), and she’s got a bill to pay back.
    2. I don’t remotely find it “misandry.” I am concerned at the fact that the phone was never found, and people never questioned. I am concerned that the TC does not appear to have thought he needed to spend much effort at the BOI, and the possible serious ethical lapse by same at the same.  There’s plenty to be concerned about here. 
    This strikes me as a case where the government did an insufficient investigation and thus went forward with incomplete evidence. If they had done a better job, the proper result (BOI kicks him out but no federal court-martial conviction) might have ensued.  Even the alleged victims might be in a better position, although likely at least the main alleged victim probably would have/should have been removed from the academy.

  17. k fischer says:

    Thanks for not using words I cannot understand.  ;  )
    I think a form of misandry is holding men to a higher standard than women.  I think the different PT standards between genders is an example of misandry.  I think that that the war on sexual assault is really subterfuge for a war on men and has a foundation in misandry.  I see the coddling of “victims” who lack any semblance of credibility to the point where an officer is facing a court-martial because Commanders are afraid of dismissing charges an example of misandry.
    And to call Ensign Stadler a “victim” is a joke.  She is a predator.  I don’t care if she was an E-1 and he was wearing stars.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  (That doesn’t take away Thompson’s accountability to put a glass barrier between he and the mids.  Like I said, maybe it is different at the Infantry School, but none of the OCS candidates had my cell number or knew where I lived.  That’s a big eyebrow raiser alone.)  The reason she has to pay back those loans is because she was committing fraternization with an enlisted person.  If this ménage actually occurred and this female Marine was raped, then she is just as responsible as Thompson would be, wouldn’t she?  And if the prosecution really believed that the female Marine was raped, then they should have charged Stadler, as well, as a principal, or for misprision of a serious offense.
    Quite frankly, I think those texts show that what happened, if anything, was consensual.  You don’t laugh about being raped.  And, I agree that the investigation sucked.  Really this was a court-martial about fraternization, and the prosecutors used a false rape allegation to get the panel to settle on the fraternization and indecent acts and get a conviction.  And had the prosecutors and NCIS done a thorough job, then you are right, this should have gone to a BOI.  But, even if they had, I still think it would have gone to a Court-martial for rape because nothing really would have changed, right?

  18. k fischer says:

    demeaning women in such a broad-stroke fashion.

    Chuck, you clever guy.  I saw what you did there….. Disregard my comment above, I thought you were being serious.

  19. dyskolos says:

    Abe — “He started believing his own BS!”  Very true. Hoist with his own petard!

  20. Lonewolf says:

    Ha! Good one Chuck, love the pun.

  21. Advocaat says:

    This article should be required reading for every new defender before they get in the habit of going down client rabbit holes.  Fantastic text confrontation by the author–Bravo Zulu.

  22. Dew_Process says:

    So why wouldn’t the government fire up a new BOI based upon this? Especially if there are recordings of his admissions?  Former jeopardy isn’t a bar. . . .

  23. stewie says:

    You think different PT standards is borne not from a recognition of the physical differences between men and women but an active hatred of men?  Wow.  That little bon mot gives me insight.
    Who is disputing that what happened is consensual at this point? The point is that it’s not anti-male to treat the senior more harshly than the subordinate, particularly when one is in training and the other is a field grade officer.
    Pretty sure I said “alleged victim.” Let me check.  Yep.
    I don’t know if it would have gone up if everything had been done correctly via the investigation. In some place yes, in others no. I know if I were advising the command/SJA my recommendation would be administrative action not court-martial.

  24. Charlie Gittins says:

    Well, does anyone know if Rules Counsel is looking at Rugh?  There seems to be a problem there which is more concerning since he is now an appellate judge and is deciding these crap cases that the Navy is prosecuting.

  25. k fischer says:

    A Field Grade professor at a military academy, i.e. Maj Thompson, and a mid, i.e. Stadler, engage in consensual intercourse that was encouraged by the mid, i.e. Stadler.  Is the mid an alleged victim?  No.  Stadler is not a victim, unless you can be the victim of fraternization.  She is neither a genuine victim or an alleged victim.  However, the military treats her as the equivalent of a 15 year old girl who gets a fake ID, goes to a bar in Florida, orders a glass of wine, and chats up a 30 year old man who takes her back to his place where they have intercourse, then tells her mom about it who calls the cops and has him arrested, prosecuted, and thrown in jail.  She has as equal or more accountability for this crime that the Maj paid for, yet, nothing happened to her.
    Where I practice law, the SVP would have determined that the text messages indicating a relationship between Stadler and Thompson corroborated Stadler’s story that Thompson raped the female Marine during the ménage.  I don’t see how the knowledge of the texts change the posture of the case.  They just corroborate Stadler’s word that they had a pre-existing relationship. 

  26. Mike says:

    So, he’s still subject to the UCMJ and he insisted on this WAPO reporter dredging up the truth about his case.  Turns out the evidence may tend to demonstrate that he allegedly lied under oath during the separation board about his relationship with a Midshipman.  Have reporters been court-martial witnesses in cases like this in the past?  Would make a neat law review article.

  27. k fischer says:

    Also, there are no recognizable physical differences between the genders anymore.  Standards should be standards regardless of gender, and it is quite unfair that a male has to do more pushups to max a PT test to get 50 promotion points.  The fact that it is still in place must be a form of misandry, or in the very least, inequality.  If you disagree with me, then you are a misandrist because only a misandrist would want men to do more pushups to max a PT test to punish them for being men.

  28. President Comacho says:

    Whoops – didn’t see that one coming did you MAJ Thompson. But the real question – where do all these women who engage in threesomes live? Or have I just been playing the dating scene all wrong these many years.  I’ve had many clients who have threesomes and get charged and I can’t seem to find myself in these situations.
    MAJ Thompson, you are an idiot.  You see, Washington Post reporters actually investigate both sides of the story.  It is only CID and NCIS that pick a side – almost exclusively the side of the females b/c that is what their higher HQs have commanded them to do.  When a female cries rape, it is a rape – now it is CID and NCIS’s sworn duty to make sure they find the evidence to prove rape, even if all of the leads indicate no rape.  You have to push past all of the reasonableness and common sense, knowledge of the ways of the world, gravity, Bernulli’s principle etc…  and make sure you get the person titled so that the commanders can then be forced to send it to trial so they can retain their promotion potential.  The JAG office will then tack on a bunch of bullshit charges reflecting Evangelical right wing nut job views of sex and morality from a 100 years ago so that they can get some kind of conviction in order to say it was a win while the accused walks on the sexual assault and rape charges but is stuck with a federal conviction ensuring no meaningful employment after being kicked out at a sep board.  TJAGs then report to congress that they are winning the war b/c convictions are up. And the chances of true equality between men and women slowly erodes over time rather than increases b/c all women are weak and fragile and must be protected by us men-folk.
    Gosh America is great.  Got Trump winning. Pathological Hillary winning on the other side. I just hope I can save enough money to retire to Australia or New Zealand.  The places that America could have been like if we didn’t get dumber and dumber over time.  But hey, we have more guns and bibles than the rest of the world so we must be winning.

  29. k fischer says:

    Mr. Pres.,
    Orlando.  They live in Orlando, the happiest place on Earth.  Korea is chock full of them too.  But these are not the women you are looking for.  Not to get too evangelical on you , but every man in today’s Army should read Proverbs 5 and Proverbs 31.

  30. Justice says:

    I’m concerned about Mark Thompson, who lied to an administrative board about his encounter with two women who accused him of sexual assault.  But, I’m more concerned about Aaron Rugh, the prosecutor who lied under oath about the government’s evidence in that administrative board and then was made a judge.  Thompson obstructed justice, but Rugh, if he lied, is a complete perversion of it.  If Rugh lied, then he should lose: his judgeship, his commission, his law license, his lack of a federal conviction, and his liberty.  

  31. Luke says:

    I feel sorry for this Gentleman, unfortunately for me this is no revelation, there has been a war against the innocent within the services.
    This has been perpetuated as a result of the weak men and women within the leadership core of our services. These folks have allowed themselves to succumb to self preservation in the face of unprecedented political pressure to perverse the military justice system.
    Although my case presents different facts, unfortunately it has endured the same trajectory that is , LADY JUSTICE is an after thought!
    After 9 years of languishing in appellate courts Purgatory, two Dubay hearings and 3 million dollars of USACIL purportedly investigating themselves and then get this CLASSIFYING the final Report! LOL!, a supreme petition, Suit in the federal Court in DC and PRO SE at the appellate level in the DC circuit. It has been 18 years and I simply Cannot rest!
    I have my hopes up at the 3rd circuit, I can’t rest as long as I am still breathing, I will continue to knock on every door until someone listens and the politicians are held to account by the mighty voters for the routine callous destruction of lives who have chosen to wear the uniform!
    Hell, the average serviceman have more to fear from a sexual assault allegation than a foreign enemy! just make an accusation against a man and you will be automatically recognized as a victim and in fact given a “VICTIM COUNSEL” yes you are a victim before any trial, the government gives its assent to this designation before the jury is picked from among government servants! so, shyt! the defendant is guilty, prospective juror within a command “hell even the government says so!”
    Can someone please tell me where else in American Jurisprudence is someone declared a “VICTIM” at the time they make an allegation?
    I feel your pain SIR and am happy someone in credible media has taken up your cause to exposed these atrocities!

  32. dyskolos says:

    Let’s lighten the mood; croquet anyone?

  33. President Comacho says:

    Croquet is for sissies – badminton is where its at. That and tetherball.  I was the tetherball champion 3 years running at my church camp in the 80’s – still my biggest accomplishment.  Still got the skill.

  34. Thewritesofweiss says:

    I still don’t understand. Why didn’t Stadler hand her phone over to NCIS or whoever in the beginning? It would have corroborated her affair with him. She kept it for a reason. And why would Thompson be so brazen to think the phone and those messages could never surface again to contradict him? Did he think this Washington post reporter was the 180 of Sabrina Rubin Erdely and would never look for these things? Why not quit when you’re ahead. He survived the BOI and had his retirement. Now he may lose it all! For what? To clear his name on a conviction that was actually legitimate and only for crimes that mean nothing in the civilian world ? I hope this guy showed more judgment when commanding Marines who were in harms way. And finally…was there or was there not a threesome? Why would the now Marine lieutenant lie about it if it never happened? But those txt messages she and Stadler sent make it look like a fabrication.

  35. Ed says:

    Originally I had some sympathy for Thompson./ Now I hope he is prosecuted for an offense the civilian world will care about. As to Stadler she really had the character to get a commission. She got what she deserved.

  36. k fischer says:

    When I listened to the audio about Marines going through an ambush and leaving other Marines, and that is why he is doing this, I was thinking, “Yeah!!!!!  Get some!!!!”  Then Cox wrote about the phone showing up……and I realized that he might have been the Jackie for the wrongly convicted had a biased reporter just listened to his story…….
    He seemed pretty dismissive of the ménage during the pretext phone call.  Why would the Marine lieutenant lie about it if it never happened?  Boredom?  Curiosity of how easy it is destroy a Marine officer?  Explain away a problem at the Academy?  Maybe they propositioned him to join in and he turned them down because he had a girlfriend, so she was embarrassed and didn’t want him on the rifle team anymore?
    On the flip side, why does a mid know his personal cell number and his home address?  That’s pretty sketchy. 
    Listening to her audios, her voice is dripping with sexual portent.  Reminds me of Proverbs 5:
    3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,    and her mouth is smoother than oil.4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,    as dangerous as a double-edged sword.5 Her feet go down to death;    her steps lead straight to the grave.
    6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.    She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

  37. The Wet Bandit says:

    DISCLAIMER:  I am a big CAPT(s) Rugh Enthusiast.  I think he is easily one of the smartest and most capable attorneys in the entire Navy JAG Corps.  Before throwing him under the bus, it is important to realize that he was detailed as government counsel while serving in the TCAP billet (if my memory serves me correctly).  Therefore, it is highly likely that he relied on both the RLSO and junior attorneys/legalmen to do a lot of the grunt work in this case.  Stadler’s mom and brother are pretty minor players in this whole story.  Although I have no personal knowledge, my strong assumption is that  he likely never spoke directly to the mom or brother and may have been legitimately mistaken about the conversation.
       I have no dog in the fight, but I have a lot of respect for CAPT Rugh; it would be extremely out of character for him to deliberately lie.

  38. Alfonso Decimo says:

    I was planning to write something similar to TWB’s post. Well said and ditto. Aaron is one of the best.

  39. stewie says:

    You are still the lead counsel, it’s still your responsibility. He may not have lied, he may have relied on bad info, but I don’t think you get to throw junior folks under the bus in this situation either.

  40. Matt says:

    TWB and AD: Then the answer when asked if they were spoken to is to say I don’t know.  Not falsely testify that they were contacted if they were not.  If another officer falsely claimed that he spoke with them and Rugh was relying on that, then that person needs to be called out and disciplined.  We are too willing to whitewash prosecutorial misconduct in the name of inexperience or overwork.  As long as they keep getting free passes, it will continue.

  41. Ed says:

    TWB, AD and Matt
    Captain Rugh should have been able to rely on his subordinate JAG officers. As I remember it their word should be their bond.

  42. Charlie Gittins says:

    Ed:  The correct answer under those circumstances would be “I personally did not speak to them.  My co-counsel assured me they did.  Or, “I personally did not speak to them.  I have no personal knowledge whether anyone from the prosecution or NCIS spoke to them.”  An unequivocal “yes” is at best reckless speculation that he did not articulate as speculation or assumption and at worst a deliberate effort to mislead.
    I have caught prosecutors doing this.  US v. SGT Adens (Army case).  Case reversed for prosecutorial misconduct in a urine case.

  43. The Wet Bandit says:

    A follow up article

  44. Andy P says:

    I keep wondering what his defense counsel’s advice was after the BOI retained him and what he thought would be gained by involving the Post reporter?

  45. The Wet Bandit says:

    Andy:  Good question.  I wonder if he even told his defense counsel the whole story. My guess is no, otherwise allowing your client to testify untruthfully under oath is generally not a good idea.  I don’t know the Major at all, but my guess is that he kind of lost touch with reality and thought that the evidence of the texts was really gone. 

  46. Abe Froman says:

    The follow up article doesn’t really shed any new light into the situation, but there was a quick blurb that said there is going to be a new article about the Rugh situation.  I’ll be curious to see what that has to say.  As I said in the beginning of this thread, they have excised one statement from the BOI…I am sure there is much more context to it than that.  I hope they post the transcript from the BOI (which normally aren’t verbatim, correct?).

  47. Alfonso Decimo says:

    AF –  In my experience, yes, the BOI results in a verbatim transcript, although the reporter isn’t required to make an audio recording and may rely instead on shorthand, or other methods.

  48. Charlie Gittins says:

    I just looked at the BOI transcript for CAPT Holly Graf USN (Navy Yard) and it was verbatim.  Same-o with one for a Marine Major at Quantico.

  49. FanGirl says:

    Pres Com – you’re right; he’s an idiot.  Also a criminal.
    Justice and Charles Gittins – failing to qualify the answer SHOULD have repercussions, even if he only loses the judgeship (and I’m not saying that should be the limit of the repercussions.
    Weiss – why didn’t Monica hand over the dress sooner?  It COULD be that she was trying to protect someone she was having a “relationship” with, while he was merely getting a little something-something.
    K. Fischer – I don’t think she’s a predator, but she is also not a victim in this situation.  It’s perfectly acceptable for men to “chase tail” and the same should be true for women.  Both should be held accountable when they break the rules to do it.
    I’m not a lawyer but I’m a (medically) retired Air Force female.  I’m also a law fan/buff with zero legal education.  How is it that it is common practice for criminal A to get a deal in favor of getting testimony on (presumably bigger and badder) criminal B and yet, when it comes to illegal sex in the military (a big category with some funny/archaic laws), the poor, consensually-involved female is a “victim” when it comes to labeling, personal accountability and consequences?  Did he coerce her?  Did he abuse his position of authority?  Doesn’t sound like it.  She’s not a victim; she is criminal A.  Also, her education bill is due to unrelated illegal conduct and shouldn’t be weighed in the Thompson situation, as if she got more punishment than he did.  I do hope he loses that taxpayer funded retirement though…  

  50. k fischer says:

    What FanGirl said about female accountability.  She sounds like the female version of me.  Like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry was going to marry Jeneane Garofalo……

  51. Alfonso Decimo says:

    The Washington Post’s follow-on article focusing on the court-martial prosecutor’s testimony at the BOI was an awful hatchet-job, IMHO. As far as I know, it was technically factual, but the journalist’s writing choices were clearly agenda-driven. As a disclaimer, I have tremendous respect for the subject judge advocate from working with him many years ago. Still, these facts were covered in the first article and I think this second article was just unnecessary and vicious. Like the character in the “Wizard of Oz,” you just never know when someone will just drop a house on you!

  52. Agreewithabove says:

    Agree with above. The author of the article made accusations and then wrote a follow-up wondering what would be done with those accusations. Waste of time. 

  53. The Wet Bandit says:

    We Stand with Ahmed Aaron!

  54. Andy P says:

    Update on Washington Post today, this story isn’t over.