- - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Along with many Americans, I salute The Washington Times for having the courage to not only report on the Air Force general court martial persecution-prosecution of Air Force Tech Sgt. Aaron Allmon, but to continue following this case with a series of updates from the courtroom trial in Minot, N.D., until the court martial concluded on Nov. 14. I am very familiar with the dynamics of the military justice system and the process that goes into deciding which allegations are supported by real evidence and then which level of adjudication is best to decide the matter. Adjudication forums of alleged wrongs can range from administrative arenas all the way to the most serious level of the general court martial.

With its many safeguards, this system usually works wonderfully so that the proper charges match up with the proper level for the determination of guilt or innocence. In the Allmond case, however, the insidiousness of political correctness vis a vis allegations of “sexual harassment” guaranteed that the system would fail. While the public has been fully exposed to the fact that real cases of rape and sexual harassment do occur in the military, few realize that the military’s overzealousness to deal with the matter has destroyed the lives and careers of many men in uniform accused of any untoward behavior toward a woman in uniform — regardless of whether the accusations were true or not. As such, the Allmon case is a perfect example of the witch hunt mentality.

The case began with the Air Force command structure rushing to judgment based on false allegations against Sgt. Allmon by several females at Minot Air Force Base. With no corroboration for their allegations, no forensic evidence, and no attempt to test their stories, the Air Force quickly pushed for a general court martial against this highly decorated 19-year combat photographer. The trumped-up charge sheet included more than a score of charges for sexual assault, harassment and making threats to females that would put Sgt. Allmon in jail for 130 years (this was before the Article 32 officer recommended a mere 15 years).

The case ended after a six-day trial with a not-guilty verdict on all charges related to sexual misconduct or threats, but guilty verdicts on charges of maltreating junior females and making a false statement. Realizing the absurdity of the charges and the forum selection of a general court martial, the judge sentenced Sgt. Allmon to 30 days in confinement and a one-grade reduction (no discharge). In short, this is non-judical punishment rendered at a general court martial.

Obviously, there was no evidence to substantiate the false sexual accusations, and everyone knew it, including the Air Force chain of command. Nevertheless, the charges went forward because the Air Force senior leadership had spoken. They would take another scalp to wave before the critics, not caring about the chilling effect such actions have on female-male interaction in the armed forces. Like the separate prongs of the serpent’s tongue, the insidiousness of political correctness struck not only the victim — Sgt. Allmon — but also the entire body of the military.

Indeed, Sgt. Allmon is not alone. Instead of approaching the matter of sexual assault in the military in an objective fashion, the leadership of the Air Force is still determined to conduct what can only be described as Salem-style witch hunts against any and every male “accused” of wrongdoing when it comes to females in uniform. As evidence that they don’t get it, the Air Force Times published the results of the Allmon trial but could only get an “anonymous” senior Air Force official to respond with the usual blather about “equal treatment and fairness” and a commitment to continue to root out anyone accused of offenses asked females in uniform. The rank and file know better, and such nonsense only makes the relationship between men and women in uniform more difficult and strained than ever. No doubt, male superiors are afraid to even make a correction on a female’s uniform in fear of charges of sexual harassment.

At the end of the day, this was a case won only because Sgt. Allmon and his sister, Lisa Roper, who assisted greatly in his defense, had the guts to stand up and fight a military justice system gone amok. Perhaps the Allmond case will alert commanders that espirit de corps matters over getting another star. True justice requires a backbone and an unwillingness to bow down and worship at the altar of political correctness.

Jeffrey Addicott, a retired Army officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, is a law professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

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