The Pendulum Has Swung: Defending Yourself Against False Allegations in Senator Claire McCaskill’s Military Justice System

If you or someone you know has been falsely accused of a crime,
please contact Save Our Heroes.

This animated video describes the obstacles faced by military members who are wrongly or falsely accused of sexual assault. From the recent changes to the UCMJ to the barriers built around the alleged victim, wrongly and falsely accused service members face an uphill battle defending themselves. Court-martial defense lawyer Will M. Helixon, with decades of experience as a sex crimes prosecutor, can team with the military detailed counsel to level the playing field and defend the rights of the wrongly and falsely accused. (www.helixongroup.com)

Learn more: Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Overturns Rape Conviction & 20 Year Prison Sentence for Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor MSgt Michael Silva (2017)

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MSgt Michael Silva, USAF

In the 2011/2012 timeframe, the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal coverage began to gain serious momentum in the media. As a result, military leadership set up a hotline number for former recruits to report claims of sexual abuse while attending basic training. After a base wide investigation, 35 basic military training instructors were court-martialed for allegedly abusing trainees or sex related offenses. MSgt Michael Silva was one of two basic military training instructors at Lackland AFB found guilty and sentenced by the military courts to 20 years for rape. SSgt Luis Walker was the other instructor and committed suicide shortly after learning his appeal was denied. At an Article 32 evidentiary hearing convened in Silva’s case, he was facing charges of raping a basic trainee from 1995 and two ex-wives (one in the 1992-1993 time frame and another in 2007). In January 2015, Silva was convicted of raping two of the alleged victims, the basic trainee in 1995 and one of the ex-wives. MSgt Silva wrote a clemency letter to the convening authority in the courts-martial at Joint Base San-Antonio claiming that he was falsely accused and wanted to retire with the rank, pay and benefits of an Air Force senior master sergeant, the rank he earned but was never allowed to wear. Silva claims that his accusers (also military members at the time of the alleged incidents) were motivated to accuse him of rape in an effort to collect veteran’s benefits totaling over $3000 a month. The alleged victim’s names in this case have been protected for their own privacy. Both the 2nd AF SJA office and the convening authority taking action on this case were provided over 150 pages of evidence found post trial proving that the alleged victims were either lying or not credible.

On July 20, 2017, Save Our Heroes reported that MSgt Michael Silva’s rape conviction and twenty year prison sentence had been overturned by the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. MSgt Silva’s defense presented seven arguments and the Court of Criminal Appeals made their decision after seeing only one of those arguments, although they referenced some of the injustice in the other arguments, they ruled them moot at this point and would not be answered. MSgt Silva’s case was overturned due to an error on the part of Judge (Col) Natalie Richardson provided, inter alia, the following instructions to the court members before counsels’ arguments on findings:

“An accused may be convicted based only on evidence before the court, not on evidence of a general criminal predisposition. Each offense must stand on its own, and you must keep the evidence of each offense separate. Stated differently: if you find or believe that the accused is guilty of one offense, that—you may not use that finding, or that belief as a basis for inferring, assuming, or proving that he committed any other offense. . . . Proof of one offense carries with it no inference that the accused is guilty of any other offense.”

“Evidence that the accused committed one sexual offense alleged in a Specification—so 1, 2, 3, or 4 of the Charge—may have no bearing on your deliberations in relation to any other of those Specifications unless you first determine by preponderance of the evidence, that is more likely than not, that one offense alleged oc- curred. So if you determine by preponderance of the evidence that the offense alleged in the specification of the Charge occurred, even if you are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of that offense, you may nonetheless then con- sider the evidence of that offense for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant in relation to the other alleged specifications. You may also consider the evidence of such other sexual offenses for its tendency, if any, to show the accused [sic] propensity or predisposition to engage in sexual offenses. You may not, how- ever, convict the accused solely because you believe he commit- ted this other offense or solely because you believe the accused has a propensity or predisposition to engage in sexual offenses. In other words you cannot use this evidence to overcome a fail- ure of proof in the government’s case if you perceive any to exist. The accused may be convicted of an alleged offense only if the prosecution has proven each element beyond a reasonable doubt. Each offense must stand on its own, and the proof of one offense carries no inference that the accused is guilty of any other of- fense. In other words, proof of one sexual offense creates no in- ference that the accused is guilty of any other sexual offense. However, it may demonstrate that the accused has a propensity to commit that type of offense. The prosecution’s burden of proof to establish the accused [sic] guilt beyond a reasonable doubt re- mains as to each and every element of each offense charged. Proof of one, proof of one charged offense carries with it no infer-ence that the accused is guilty of any other charged offense.”

“…There were weaknesses in the Government’s case. The alleged crimes occurred far in the past. There were no eyewitnesses other than the victims themselves. The only one of the charged or uncharged victims to report the alleged crimes to law enforcement prior to 2012 was JB, and she recanted her initial allegation. The Prosecution presented no physical, scientific, or photographic evidence of any of the offenses. The Government offered no confessions or admissions to any of the offenses by Appellant, who did not testify.” –United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals

MSgt Silva was merely a scapegoat in the Lackland sex scandal. His wife Lisa made the following statement: “They finally did the right thing by admitting that my husband wasn’t afforded a fair trial. They simply used him as a scape goat because of all the political pressure and attention on the alleged Lackland Sex Scandal. By convicting Mike they were sending a message to all the MTI’s both past and present demonstrating that they would go after them no matter what. I don’t know who would want want to even be a MTI knowing that a potential false allegation could be hanging over their head for 20 years and potentially ruin your life. Mike was an amazing mentor to so many over his 24 year career and all they did was destroy him. He was defeated by the very institution he served to protect and defend.”

The political witch hunts produced convictions of military training instructors to appease congressional leaders, and it resulted in one sided investigations. In MSgt Silva’s case, they didn’t even verify statements made by the accusers. In other words, there was no evidence to charge MSgt Silva to begin with because this was indeed a purely ‘he said, she said’ case. And the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) went on a fishing expedition when they sought out MSgt Silva’s ex-wives, who technically may not have the necessary credibility if they were at all resentful or angry that the marriage ended. It appears the AFOSI attempted to connect three accusers in an effort to prove MSgt Silva was a serial rapist with a propensity to commit crimes in the future. As part of a response to the high profile Lackland sex scandal, the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) set up a temporary hot line. One accuser used the specially created hotline to report an alleged rape in 1995 and the other two accusers were ex-wives sought out by AFOSI to bolster their case (one recanted her allegation). Instead, they gave the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals grounds to throw the conviction out because the alleged criminal modus operandi was not similar in pattern whatsoever and MSgt Silva was never charged or convicted of any crimes prior to his court-martial. Let’s hope the United States Air Force does the right thing in this case and demonstrates to Congress and the civilian organizations that they are serious about fighting crime only when there is evidence to support it.

“The court authorized a rehearing where the government could, in theory, bring new evidence justifying a new trial. This is highly unlikely, given that a new trial would only deepen the embarrassment.” –John Q. Public

Related Links:
Lackland Rape Charge the Result of Air Force Outreach
New Charges At Lackland On 20-Year-Old Case
Air Force sergeant charged with raping 3 women
Master sgt. faces hearing on multiple rape charges
Master sgt. Michael Silva on trial in 1995 rape
Rape hearing runs 30 minutes
Lackland’s Master Sgt. Silva guilty in 1995 rape
Lackland instructor gets 20 years in prison in rape cases
Air Force instructor at Lackland AFB gets 20 years in prison for rapes
Air Force instructor gets 20 years in prison for rapes
Conviction in Air Force rape case
Air Force jury sentences former instructor to 20 years in prison for rapes
Gender-based focus groups to address sex harassment at AMC
Is Accuser’s Facebook Update Riddled With Inaccuracies?
Social Media Postings Reveal Much About ‘Psychic Medium’ Who Accused AF Basic Training Instructor of Sexual Assault
Something’s Seriously Wrong When Military Justice System Sides With Psychics, Convicted Felons and Porn Queens
Clemency Letter Reveals Much About Pentagon’s Eagerness to Convict Military Men on False Sexual Assault Allegations
MSgt Michael Silva. Falsely accused and convicted of rape…serving 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
Save Our Heroes Official Website
Save Our Heroes on Facebook
U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Decision for MSgt Michael Silva (2017)
MSgt Michael Silva is Save Our Heroes very first client and the husband of Save Our Heroes co-founder Lisa Silva
Military appeals court drops sexual misconduct conviction of former Air Force drill sergeant
Lackland Rape Case Tossed on Appeal, Wrongly Convicted SNCO to Walk Free
30 Days After Appellate Ruling, Air Force Continues Wrongful Imprisonment of MSgt. Mike Silva


A widening sex scandal has rocked Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Four male instructors are charged with having sex with trainees and in one case raping female trainees. -AP

Army Soldier Adam Winfield Tried to Report War Crimes in Afghanistan But Instead was Charged with War Crimes as Part of ‘The Kill Team’ (2010)

A Stryker unit that went off the rails in Afghanistan, allegedly murdering civilians, threatening a fellow soldier and using drugs

Spc. Adam Winfield, US Army

Learn more: The PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy

Related Links:
Army Charge Sheets
Sworn Statements
Winfield Charge Sheet
Soldiers charged in Afghan killings
US soldiers charged with murdering civilians in Afghanistan war
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker soldier faces court-martial
Father: Army Ignored Complaints Of Afghan Slayings
Fort Lewis soldier’s father: Army was warned of murder plot
Soldier’s father: Army was warned of murder plot
Facebook Chat of Accused Afghan ‘Kill Team’ Member Made Public
Young Soldier Both Revered and Reviled
Army ‘Kill Team’ Member: ‘We All Said Yes’ to Slaying Afghan Civilian
Third “kill team” defendant asks to get out of jail
Soldier pleads guilty to manslaughter in Afghan’s killing
‘Kill Team’ Soldier Gets Three Years in Prison
Soldier gets 3 years for part he played in deaths of Afghan civilians
Stryker ‘kill team’ trials left some soldiers’ families deeply in debt
The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians
Tribeca Diary: ‘The Kill Team’
‘The Kill Team’: When Your Squad Murders Civilians, What’s a Soldier to Do?
The Kill Team | American War Crimes in Afghanistan
Dan Krauss Investigates the Kill Team
‘The Kill Team’ premieres at Tribeca Film Festival, tells the story of gory murders in Afghanistan
Negative Reviews of ‘The Kill Team’ Miss What Makes the Documentary Special. So Do the Positive Ones
‘Kill Team’: The Documentary the Army Doesn’t Want You to See
“The Kill Team”: When U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan became trophy hunters
The Kill Team is a foggy journey into the heart of darkness
Afghanistan War Movie The Kill Team Is an Absolutely Essential Documentary
Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Captures Nightmare of War
‘The Kill Team’ provides slanted account of Maywand District murders
The Kill Team Movie: Now on PBS

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Army Special Forces Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart, Railroaded with Collateral Charges in a ‘He Said She Said’ Case After Accused of Sexual Assault by German Citizen (2008)

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Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart, US Army

The early morning hours of August 23, 2008 changed Army Special Forces soldier Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart’s life forever. Stewart went out for a night of drinking and partying in Germany with some other soldiers. Stewart was approached by a woman, a German citizen, and they began to dance. An hour or so later, they would leave together to engage in a casual one night stand. The next morning they said their goodbyes and she gave Stewart her number. A couple months later, Stewart would learn from German police and the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) that he was being accused of sexual assault by this same woman. Three Days in August by Bob McCarty takes the reader step by step through Kelly Stewart’s military court proceedings in Germany in August 2009. This book reveals the reasons so many concerned citizens are fighting for military justice reform. Whether you believe he is guilty or not, Kelly Stewart was railroaded with collateral charges in this particular court martial. There was no evidence, no forensic testing, and no witnesses to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt yet Kelly Stewart paid the price for embarrassing the US Army in an international incident.

Kelly Stewart had a stellar career and zero history of any wrong-doing in his more then ten year career, including behavioral and criminal. But the military prosecutor would lead you to believe he was a violent rapist luring his one victim with manipulation, not force. You read the book and decide for yourself if Kelly Stewart fits the modus operandi of a would be predator. After watching the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer and reading Kelly Stewart’s record of trial, it’s looking like we have a case of making a rapist. As with all investigations, this is a testament to the value of the right to remain silent whether talking to your Chain of Command or an investigator. Given the military’s track record with aggressive and ruthless tactics, silence will prevent them from twisting your statements into something they are not. Kelly Stewart may have committed adultery and he owned up to it but what if when questioned he had said nothing and denied even knowing her. It’s not his fault that he or any of our soldiers think they can trust the system only to learn that it will betray them. Nothing can stop us from educating our soldiers about their due process rights, the same rights protected by the very Constitution they are willing to die for.

Related Links:
Save This Soldier: Kelly Stewart, US Army
SFC Kelly A. Stewart Gives Up Peacefully to Military Police at Stuttgart Garrison
Green Beret Released From Prison, Fighting to Clear Name of Sex Assault Charges
Found guilty, he ran; now ex-soldier is on last-ditch appeal
A Travesty Of Justice: Collateral Charges In Military Sexual Assault Cases
My Answer Hasn’t Changed After Four Years
Save Our Heroes Files Complaint with Tennessee Bar & USDOJ – Army JAG Judge, & Former Prosecutor, LTC Jacob Bashore in the Wrongful Conviction of Army Sergeant Mario Jeffers
Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice

Pfc Suzanne Swift, US Army, Went AWOL from Fort Lewis in 2006, She Refused to Deploy for a Third Time with Superiors She Accused of Sexual Harassment

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Spc. Suzanne Swift, US Army

“I can’t do this, Mom, I can’t go back there.” -Suzanne Swift

Pfc. Suzanne Swift, US Army, was a Military Police Officer stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington. She had already deployed twice to Iraq before getting tasked to go again for the third time in less then four years. In January 2006, Suzanne Swift decided last minute to go Absent without Leave (AWOL) instead of going back to Iraq. According to her mother, Sara Rich, she couldn’t handle another deployment dealing with the daily hour-to-hour sexual harassment that she endured from the majority of her male officers and fellow soldiers. She felt especially isolated in Iraq and feared being attacked, harassed, molested, and raped. She told her mom that most of the other soldiers were sexually harassing her, pressuring her to consent, and making her life miserable for rejecting them. Her mom asked her if she wanted to report the sexual harassment and Suzanne did not. She told her mom that reporting would only make her life even more of a living hell. She says when she did blow the whistle on one of her superiors for sexually harassing her, she was treated like a pariah. Suzanne shared that he was moved to a different unit and promoted. She felt that those who reported were not supported but instead shamed when they brought these matters to the attention of their superiors.

According to Suzanne, Army leadership pressured her into signing a release form waiving her right to the mandatory decompression time of eighteen months between deployments. Suzanne refused to sign the form waiving her rights to decompression time but was told that her life would be ‘hell in a shit hole’ if she refused to sign. She says they screamed in her face and intimidated her. As a result she signed the form and was scheduled to leave for Iraq again in January 2006. The Eugene Police raided her home in March 2006, she was arrested, and she was taken back to Fort Lewis where she would be confined. She was charged with missing movement and AWOL. In December 2006, Suzanne pleaded guilty to both charges and was demoted and sentenced to thirty days in prison. If she met the conditions of the plea agreement, she could remain in the Army and be eligible for a honorable discharge. After she finished her sentence she would be reassigned to a new unit. If she did not agree to the plea, she was facing a year in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Her plea, which came during a summary court martial, helped her avoid a federal conviction. Suzanne chose to leave the Army as soon as she could. She would later be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Suzanne and her mother believe that the intimidation and sexual harassment that female soldiers endure is leading to massive stress and in some cases even death for military women in Iraq. So much stress that Suzanne would choose AWOL and prison time over deploying a third time to fight what she felt was a pointless war in Iraq. Sara Rich is confident that Suzanne saved her own life with her courage. And based on what has happened in the Army in Iraq and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord since 2006, we think she’s right.

Read More:
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Violent Crime at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

“Notice to those who report false claims of rape, harassment, assault, and command rape: you make it difficult for those who experience the real thing. You are just as culpable as those who commit the acts.” –Suzanne Swift Petition

Related Links:
Sara Rich | A Moment of Silence Is Not Enough
Sara Rich | Fear for My Daughter
Protest in support of Suzanne Swift at Ft. Lewis gates on Sat., Jul. 15
Rallying for Suzanne Swift
An Update on U.S. Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
CNN: This Week at War
Army Spc Suzanne Swift, Iraq vet and sexual assault victim, supporters rally at Ft Lewis
Iraq Vets’ Sit-in for Suzanne Swift is Successful
The ordeal of Suzanne Swift
Petition for Suzanne Swift
Support Suzanne Swift!
Command Rape
Female Soldiers Treated ‘Lower Than Dirt’
Abuse of women GIs: Good men must check bad ones
Iraq Veteran Says Harassment Prompted Desertion
From Victim To Accused Army Deserter
U.S. soldier goes AWOL — alleges sexual harassment / Enemy lines: She deserted the Army just before her 2nd tour in Iraq, not because of the war, she says, but because her superiors preyed on her
Fort Lewis soldier will face trial
G.I. war resister Suzanne Swift to be court-martialed
NWI Statement of Support for Suzanne Swift
America’s secret war
Spc. Suzanne Swift Signs Statement with Military After Harassment Claim, AWOL Status Lead to Court-Martial
Female soldier sentenced to 30 days for going AWOL
Soldier who claimed sex harassment, refused to return to Iraq freed from military custody
For Female Soldiers, Sexual Assault Remains a Danger
The Women’s War
Featured War Resister: Suzanne Swift
Soldier from Eugene Freed from Confinement
Spc. Suzanne Swift Released from Military Prison, Supporters Rally at Ft. Lewis
Fort Lewis private out of custody
Sexual Assault in the Military: A DoD Cover-Up?
Catching up with military resister Suzanne Swift
Oregon veteran among troops suffering sexual trauma
US Female Soldiers Raped by Male Comrades Have Trouble Seeking Justice
The Plight of Women Soldiers
Rape within Military: 1 in 3 women service members sexually assaulted at least once
A voice for women military vets
Iraq Veterans Against the War Profile of Resisters
Paying It Forward Thanks to Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
Law Office of Keith J. Scherer, PC (Military Trial Lawyer)