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

Sexual Assault is the Latest Witch Hunt in America’s History: Guilt By Accusation and Public Shaming is the New Norm, and It’s Wrong

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History of  Witch Hunts in America, located at the Salem Witch Museum, Massachusetts

Society has a tendency to respond in a crisis oriented fashion to a moral panic. After “The Invisible War” gaslighted America, all women soldiers were victims and all male soldiers were predators. This has been a repeated cycle after every sexual assault scandal. The media narratives reflect this and continue to perpetuate the myths typically choosing a blonde white female as the ‘victim’. But that’s not how it works in real life and male victims of crime in the military set both the filmmakers and the media straight. The momentum died off so they created another film about college sexual assault and tried again creating a female versus male division. No one really knows the statistics at the college campuses but in the military, the majority of victims of sexual assault and homicide are men. We care about the men just as much as we care about the women. We care about facts and evidence and have learned that the devil is in the details.

Learn more:
Rape Culture is a ‘Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish’
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal
Minnesota football rape case emblematic of campus witch-hunt culture
Rape Culture in the West is as Real as ‘Witchcraft in Salem’
A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials
Defending Sexual Assault Cases Animation


In this video, a former D.A. (now criminal defense lawyer) explains the law of rape, penalties and sentencing, and common legal strategies to fight the case. Each year, countless innocent people get wrongfully arrested for rape and sexual assault. Sometimes there was a genuine misunderstanding between the accuser and the accused as to the issue of consent. Other times, the alleged victim makes up false allegations out of anger, jealousy or spite towards the accused. A conviction for Penal Code 261 can bring years, sometimes life in prison. It’s important in these situations to have an attorney and defense investigator who can scrutinize the background of the accuser and expose a fabricated story for what it it.

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

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October 1, 2016

U.S. House of Representatives
United States Senate
Washington, DC

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of support for Save Our Heroes. We recognized immediately that Save Our Heroes and victims of crimes both want similar changes in the military justice system. Save Our Heroes is asking for three specific legislative/policy changes to restore fundamental fairness in the military justice system:

1. Remove all Commanders authority from decision-making in the legal system.
2. The number of panel members should be increased to 12 for General Courts Martial.
3. Any conviction at Courts Martial shall require a unanimous verdict.

These requests by Save Our Heroes are similar to the overall changes that victims of crimes in the military have lobbied for, specifically that Commanders be removed from the reporting and decision-making process because of fear of bias, lack of investigative training, and the power to discharge and/or punish with the stroke of a pen. Save Our Heroes is requesting the same changes because ultimately both the victims and accused are looking for a military justice system that mirrors the civilian justice system while respecting the need of the Commanding Officer to ensure discipline is maintained within their command. We want a justice system where crimes are reported to legal authorities and not a Commander who is an authority figure with the power to impact your entire life. We want a justice system where crimes will be investigated thoroughly by unbiased military criminal investigative organizations looking for the truth. We want a justice system that provides the same constitutional rights as those provided in the civilian justice system. Save Our Heroes is specifically asking for changes that are commonplace in the civilian justice system, like a jury of twelve of our peers and a unanimous verdict. Our military deserves no less.

Victims of crimes in the military are asking for a military justice system that provides due process for the accuser and the accused. Crime victims want the ability to go to trial based on an independent prosecutor’s decision to charge because there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a case. Crime victims want those people who level false accusations, and engage in other abuses of the process, to be held accountable. While we recognize that false reports represent a small percentage of total reports (between 2-8 percent based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data), those who do falsely accuse are hurting the real victims of these crimes and should be held accountable through the same impartial military justice system. Both the accusers and the accused are asking for due process, which is best accomplished by a system that mirrors the civilian justice system. Currently, Commanders have control of the process when the accused, accuser, defense attorneys, and prosecutors should have control over the process.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Norris, Military Justice for All
Stephanie Schroeder, US Human Rights Network & UN Board Member
Brian Lewis, Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal

USAF SealThe Lackland Air Force Base sex scandal erupted in the 2011/2012 time frame. Sig Christenson, a reporter from San Antonio Express, slowly began to reveal the sex scandal issues at the basic military training facility in Texas and reported on most of the courts martials initiated by the Air Force. As a result of the escalating media coverage and other forces at play, it gave military sexual assault advocacy organizations a reason to request hearings in front of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressional hearings were held on January 23, 2013.  Both General Edward Rice and General Mark Welsh testified at this hearing along with two retired Air Force women and Dr. David Lisak. In the end, 35 Basic Military Training personnel were courts martialed for allegedly abusing trainees or sex related offenses. Now that the dust has settled and some time has passed, whistleblowers have disclosed that the Air Force investigations trampled on due process rights. And individuals were railroaded with collateral charges which forced them to take plea deals to avoid excessive punishments. Two were found guilty of rape and sentenced to twenty years. The Air Force is being accused of going on a “witch hunt” after being politically motivated to clean up the basic training facility while under the watchful eye of the media, advocates, and Congress. This post was inspired by Never Leave an Airman Behind: How the Air Force Faltered & Failed in the Wake of the Lackland Sex Scandal by Lt Col Craig Perry, USAF Retired.

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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 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