The Navy is balking at restoring benefits and back pay to a former Navy SEAL whose sexual assault conviction was overturned by the military’s highest court due to unlawful meddling by the services’ top legal officer, a defense attorney charges.
Attorney David P. Sheldon, who represents former Senior Chief Keith E. Barry, released a statement on Thursday accusing the Navy of ignoring an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. In September, it threw out Mr. Barry’s conviction and singled out for misconduct now-retired Vice Adm. James Crawford, who was judge advocate general.
Mr. Sheldon said the Navy at first started to comply with the Oct. 10 court order, but then stopped.
“When a decorated war hero, who served his country for decades and risk his life in countless combat missions, is wrongly convicted, confined, and punished as a result of the Judge Advocate General’s unlawful conduct, even one day is too long him to wait for it to be made right,” Mr. Sheldon said. “For Senior Chief Barry, he has been waiting not for days or weeks, but for years. And he continues to wait while Navy attorneys ignore the [court’s] order and pretend like VADM Crawford did nothing wrong.”
The Navy hierarchy praised Adm. Crawford at his subsequent retirement ceremony.
Mr. Sheldon said that on Oct. 12 the Navy began complying. But two days later, Navy lawyers ordered the bureaucracy to stop the process.
The court order rejected a Navy petition to reconsider.
The Navy told The Washington Times it is considering a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Barry case.
“The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) provides that the decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) are subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States by writ of certiorari,” the Navy said. “The UCMJ in concert with the Supreme Court’s rules permit a party to file a petition for a writ of certiorari within 90 days of entry of judgment. The decision has not yet been made as to whether the Government will seek review of the CAAF’s decision in the case of United States v. Barry.”
Mr. Barry received a dishonorable discharge and spent three years in prison until his release in April 2017. He is still officially listed as an offender even though the court, voting 3-2, dismissed the conviction over a month ago, with no retrial possible.
In 2014, Mr. Barry was convicted by a judge at court-martial on a charge of non-consensual anal intercourse. He and the accusing girlfriend had engaged in weeks of intense sexual contact, according to the woman who made the complaint after conferring with friends.
Patrick Lorge, the admiral who was overseeing the case in San Diego, decided to overturn the guilty verdict for lack of evidence. But Adm. Crawford intervened. Guilt-ridden, the now-retired admiral filed a sworn statement that suggested Adm. Crawford committed unlawful command influence.
A majority of the appeals court agreed.
“In this case, because the impact of RADM Crawford’s unauthorized guidance on RADM Lorge’s action is undeniable, we cannot escape the conclusion that actual unlawful influence tainted Appellant’s case,” the three judges wrote.
Mr. Sheldon said Mr. Barry served over 20 years on active duty. He is due back pay, retirement benefits and an honorable discharge.