The reaction to the dismissing of sexual assault charges against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was all to predictable:
An Air Force generalâ€™s decision to overturn a juryâ€™s guilty verdict and reinstate a fighter pilot convicted of sexual assault could prove to be a lightning rod in efforts to legislatively strip commanders of their long-held authority in sexual assault cases, victimsâ€™ advocates say.
Third Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Craig Franklinâ€™s decision to reinstate Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was a stunning example of structural problems in an outdated military justice system rife with bias that discounts victims while emboldening offenders, advocates said.
â€śItâ€™s really shocking,â€ť Susan Burke, a lawyer who represents numerous military women in lawsuits against the Defense Department, said of the case.
â€śItâ€™s inexcusable. Itâ€™s like the poster child for why we need reform. It proves to Congress why they have to act,â€ť she said.
Greg Jacob, policy director of the Service Womenâ€™s Action Network and a former Marine infantry officer, was likewise taken aback.
â€śItâ€™s atrocious. Itâ€™s infuriating,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s a perfect example of the due process system being overridden just at the whim of the commander. Itâ€™s a real travesty of justice.
â€śNow suddenly heâ€™s not guilty? If thereâ€™s a sexual assault in this guyâ€™s unit after he shows up, do you think anyoneâ€™s going to report it?â€ťÂ [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but of course Rep. Jackie Speier is doubling down on her idea to establish kangaroo courts outside of the standard UCMJ to convict servicemembers of sexual assaults.
Maybe there are legal reasons why LTG Franklin cannot fully disclose his reasoning, but in a case like this you would think he would have something published that fully explains his rationale.Â Â Like I speculated before, maybe the convening authority overruled the jury because they were going by the old rules of conviction where people accused of sexual assault in the military are guilty until proven innocent which was found to be un-Constitutional?Â This led to servicemembers convicted of rape before to have their cases overturned.Â The convening authority maybe saw similarities with this case as the ones that were dismissed and thus dropped the conviction?
Maybe it was something else, but by not fulling explaining his decision to reverse the conviction it has just given ammunition to the usual special interests and their political allies to push their own agendas which they are predictably doing.