I am 24 years old and currently a veteran of the armed forces. I have served in Iraq twice in the regular army as a combat engineer (infantry with explosives, basically your a jack of all trades). I got out of the army a couple of months ago and I am currently in college.
My story started last summer when we got back from Iraq. My best friend and I went to a night club and long story short I had sex with a woman. This woman was a female soldier and ended up being late to work the next morning. I was on leave at the time, so I didn’t have to go too work. She accused me of raping her, because she was going to show up to work drunk and late. This is a huge issue in the armed forces, where you just can’t call off work — it would be considered AWOL (absent without leave) or even more serious in cases of wartime, desertion (we are currently at war).
My friend and I were arrested, he was later released. I had to wait at the mp station until 1pm (this all started around 6:30-7am) until the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) showed up. The CID agent tried to get me to talk to him, which probably would have been the dumbest thing I could ever do. I really wanted to, though. I just wanted to scream it out loud I didn’t do this, I didn’t rape anybody. I wisely said, “I should probably talk to a lawyer.”
I was taken to the post clinic where I had a rape kit performed.
To the unknowing, let me explain what this means. They entered my barracks room found a PT shirt and shorts (army workout clothes — think black short shorts and a gray t shirt with the word “ARMY” written in black on the chest). They, of course, couldn’t find PT shoes (running shoes) because all my stuff was still at the bottom of my duffel bag (we had just gotten back from Iraq). So they grabbed a pair of crocs. I was taken to a doctor’s waiting room, I was told to completely strip naked. While I was naked the CID agent took pictures of every part of me. The doctor then swabbed my penis 2-3 times, then pulled hair from every part of my body. The CID agent took all my clothes, and gave me my army PT shirt and shorts and my crocs. I was then taken to his car where we went to the CID station.
At the CID station I was fingerprinted and told to sit in a room and wait. An hour later he came for me and took me to my units staff duty office. I was given a protection from abuse paper which said I could not come in contact with her or my best friend. I was told I was no longer on leave and I had to report to work the next day at 6:30 a.m..
This all ended for me that day around 3 p.m.. I will never forget the looks the staff duty NCO (non-commisioned officer) and the officers gave me. Like I was some kind of worm; dog shit on the bottom of there shoes.
In the past I have had problems with alcohol. I fixed it and got some healthy drinking habits. This of course blew the lid off of all of that. No one in my platoon was back from leave yet, so I had nobody to talk to. I just had to take the stares, the talking under the breath I heard as I walked past a group of soldiers. Someone started a rumor that when I was at the MP station, someone asked if I raped her and I said, “yeah I did it.” That probably sounds ridiculous to you but soldiers gossip about 10 times more, and harder, than any episode of “Desperate Housewives”/”Sex In The City” you have ever seen.
I would go out alone and not talk too anybody, just drink my ass off. The army lawyer I was given explained to me that I would probably win my court martial when it happened. It was going to happen because army prosecutors in cases of sexual assault/rape must take it too court martial, unless you proved you weren’t even there when the rape occurred, or the victim recanted. He told me he had spoken to CID and they aren’t sure about her story so they might ask me to take a polygraph.
I was very skeptical about a polygraph.
The reason for that is simple. I was torturing myself. I drank and thought about it constantly, I thought, maybe, “Had I done it? What if she was black-out drunk? What if she had come out of her black-out with me on top of her? Maybe someone actually thought that I raped her?”
I went over and over in my mind about all of it. I am an intelligent person, I know from watching the History Channel and the Discovery Channel as a child what a polygraph is and how it worked. I just thought about it and thought about it over and over.
So basically in the army unless a victim recants, if you were there or had relations with her, it is going to court martial. The army lawyer told me he might as well specialize in this field. He has had 10ish (years) in at the time that he came to that post. He went on to explain every single case he had won. He was trying to convince the prosecutor downstairs to stop taking them to court martial.
I hated women because of this. I went out to bars at night and didn’t talk to anybody. I was even propositioned a few times by attractive women. I told them all to go away and leave me alone. I was very rude about it. the women would usually respond that I was a faggot, bla, bla, bla. Like I said, I was very rude and deserved that response. I had a fear, which continues to this day, of it happening again.
My platoon got back from leave and I once again had people to talk to. No one could believe it. My first sergeant, whom I trusted, took me to his car and had me explain the story. He told me he knows I didn’t do it and wouldn’t tell anyone we spoke, even if CID came calling. The reason for this is, once again, the army rumor mill. My lawyer told me not too talk to anybody about the case. Let’s say I told Sergeant so-so, who later on while playing x box and drinking a beer tells Specialist Snuffy, who while at the motor pool the next day tells Private Jack and Private Black and it turns into some crazy story. CID can then use that story in their investigation. There are no secrets in the military.
I was stop-lossed (forced to remain on active duty) for my second deployment to Iraq. I really should have been out of the military over a year prior. I should have been able to waive the waiting 90 days after a deployment and been able to get out in a month. My plan was to do this and get out in time for the summer semester in college. It was then almost October and the investigation had been going on for 3-4 months.
Sometime later, I was at a hospital with my squad leader for a doctor’s appointment. He was about to leave and was going to pick me up in an hour or so when he came back. He told me the investigation was over the victim had recanted, my unit had just gotten the call.
It felt like such a weight was off my shoulders.
I mean, when you see someone on the news accused of a crime you either think they’re guilty and condemn them or think there innocent and you empathize. If you know the person and they’re a friend, you console them. You say stuff like “the truth will come out, bro,” and you’re shocked if they are found guilty. However, you don’t think about it any farther than that. When I started thinking about it, I realized wow, I could be put in jail for 20+ years for something I did not do. I would be in Fort Leavenworth, my life completely over. When I got out I would have to register as a sex offender. I would literally have to move to Mexico to live anything like a normal life.
It wasn’t over for me yet, though. My lawyer called my unit and said he needed to speak with me to tell me all the details. As I walked into his office he was screaming at someone on the phone. He was actually yelling expletives into the phone, I was told to wait outside. As I was ushered into the office he told me to sit down and started reading her statement. In a nutshell it basically said, “I was late and I didn’t think IT was going to be a big deal.” (meaning, it would not be a big deal if I said he raped me so I wouldn’t get in trouble).
My lawyer then explained to me that he was screaming into the phone because even after that statement CID wanted to pursue charges of aggravated sexual assault, which is a lesser charge of rape. I believe that is the charge he said, but it’s been a few months. He went on to explain it’s completely not legal, it’s just the army and their policy on sexual assault and rape in the military. Like I said before, every case goes to court martial, and that apparently means the ones they know have been recanted by the “victims”.
On a brighter note, he went on to say that he had teamed up with the prosecutor on this and they both told CID that what they were doing was illegal. The prosecutor was extremely angry because this would have been another case he would of had to bring to trial and lose.
But for me, the words of that women keep echoing in my head.
“I was late and I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.”
Not a fucking big deal? I still feel like ripping shit apart. Not a fucking big deal? She nearly ruined my entire fucking life. I drink all the fucking time, habitually now. I can’t bring myself to even talk to women. I fear them. I am a complete and total shut-in. I don’t even go out anymore. I just sit in my room drinking and listening to music and playing fucking World of Warcraft.
The leadership in my platoon wanted me to get out of the military quickly because I showing up in the morning hungover and smelling like an open bar. Another set up to ruin my record.
I was honorably discharged from the military in October. I have been out of the military now for almost half a year and currently a college student.
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