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I was a Navy officer charged with aggravated sexual assault and conduct unbecoming due to an event that would better be described as follows:
A drunk enlisted woman of a similar age went to my quarters with drunk me after a night of dancing/partying with the rest of our command and I made what I thought was a welcome pass that was rejected and our time together ended.
I didn’t retain Michael until after charges had been filed and I had been detailed military counsel. BAD mistake. After seeing Michael derail the prosecution at my Article 32, I think he may have been able to keep charges from being filed, or at least kept the charges to something reasonable like fraternization and conduct unbecoming. Maybe not, I found myself in a VERY WRONG place at a VERY WRONG time, when sexual misconduct in the Navy was at the very forefront of the leadership’s agenda. A friend who attended the CNO’s 2010 four-star conference said it was one of the first things he discussed. But I kick myself everytime I think about the time I wasted when Michael could have been on my team.
Once retained, Michael spent hours on the phone with me, hashing and rehashing accounts of the events from me, the alleged victim, and various others the government had come up with to “witness” against me in a situation in which they weren’t involved. He dug into the details, we compared our notes, and we picked apart each of the statements provided by the prosecution. During my Article 32, Michael used his in-depth knowledge of the detailed statements, his gut feel for why the victim had come forward 3 months later and why the others had written statements against me, and his extremely professional nice-guy bearing to literally tear the prosecution’s case apart. Before the Article 32, the prosecution had 3 witnesses with 3 stories they thought lined up. By the end of the Article 32, the prosecution had 3 witnesses with 6 different stories. One of them was verbal testimony against me that Michael physically acted out in the courtroom (turning himself into a human pretzel) to demonstrate to the court that the testimony was ludicrous. His courtroom style led witnesses right into traps that they set for themselves and then he sprung them with a soave smile before they even knew it – if they ever did. The Investigating Officer wrote that while there was enough evidence to charge me just because the alleged victim said it happened and she seemed believable, based on the credibility of the various prosecution witnesses (which Michael destroyed) and lack of corroboration (which Michael again ripped asunder with his attention to detail and instincts), it would by no stretch of the imagination be surprising if I was acquitted. The prosecution changed their tune from “NO WAY would we consider a resignation” to “sure, go ahead and submit that and we will support it.”
I ended up requesting to resign in lieu of court martial. Though I was innocent, I could not risk even a 1 in a million chance of conviction since the Navy was charging me with something that would have required sex-offender registry and effectively separating me from my kids lives until they became adults. The Navy accepted my request. I was supposed to be discharged adminsitratively with an Other Than Honorable, but ended up with a General under Honorable Conditions.
Bottom line, get Mike Waddington on your team ASAP if you are innocent and there’s anything to work with in your case. He will help you find it, make sure the government gets the point, and get you as little punishment as reasonably possible.