Air Force staff sergeant testifies in rape case involving Coast Guardsman
Updated On: Jun 30 2014 11:55:41 PM EDT
In an attempt to look less attractive to the men she worked with in the Air Force, a female staff sergeant shaved her head. And to look tough, she drove a pick-up truck with mufflers. On Monday, during her testimony in military court, the self-described "tough mechanic" used a tissue to cover her eyes as she cried.
Seven jurors learned that there were reports that from 2007 to 2010 different men had sexually harassed her, sexually assaulted her several times and raped her in 2009 and 2010. The judge, Coast Guard Capt. Christine Cutter, in the 2010 rape trial in Miami referred to the incidents as potentially false.
The alleged victim said that reporting the 2009 rape left her working in an office and away from the planes she loved. When the defense attorney, U.S. Navy Lt. Matt Kozyra, asked her why she didn't scream the night of the 2010 rape and why it took her years to consider reporting it, she said it was because she was afraid.
"If you have already been demoralized and abused to a certain point, maybe you start to wonder how would it even go," she said.
During her service with the Air Force, she was a victim advocate and a former Air Force sexual assault bystander intervention training facilitator. But the rules have been changing since she left the Air Force in 2011.
The Air Force and the Coast Guard are adjusting to new legislation due to years of a growing outcry over sexual violence against women in the military.
Victims in the military now have two reporting options. The "unrestricted" option triggers a formal investigation identifying both victim and offender. The "restricted option" includes an investigation, but maintains confidentiality, as long as complaint is disclosed to certain officials, a health care provider or a chaplain.
In January 2013, the female Air Force staff sergeant said she was looking into the possibility of filing a "restricted" report when the 2010 alleged rape became public. She said that was not her intent and that all she wanted was guidance on how the new rules applied to her as a civilian.
On Monday, the 31-year-old woman was married and pregnant. She sat a few feet away from U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sheldon Bond, whom she claims raped her in 2010.
With no statute of limitations, the married father of two was charged with adultery, wrongful sexual contact and rape Nov. 15. He could face life in prison if found guilty.
HALLOWEEN WEEKEND 2010
Bond, 33, listened to attorneys' opening statements. He also stared at his accuser during her testimony surrounding the events of Halloween weekend 2010 as relatives sat behind him.
Bond met his accuser through his brother-in-law, who recruited the two to join a group who would dress up as the Village People, an American disco group. His wife wasn't present.
Bond was the cowboy. And with tight black leather pants, matching vest, black knee-high boots and a helmet, she was the biker.
"When she first met the accused she thought he was a nice person," Coast Guard prosecutor Lt. Frances S. Johnson-Gillion said.
There had been plenty of drinking when the fun night began to go downhill. She sang "Fergalicious" by Fergie and "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira during karaoke. And she got on her knees on stage, when her leather pants ripped on her left upper thigh in front of the crowd.
"I was self-conscious," she said. "I stayed on my feet for the rest of the night. ... It was game over for me."
She said she was afraid people at the bar could see her underwear, so she stood by a wall. Bond followed her, but she said he wasn't shy anymore. The alcohol gave him confidence and made him aggressive, she said.
Bond joked about the pants, put his hand through the ripped area, touched her vagina and licked her thigh, she said.
"First I froze and then I shoved him," she said.
He fell down. But she didn't tell anyone, because she "didn't want to make a scene," be "disruptive," appear "disagreeable" or look "like a cry baby."
That night the group returned to Bond's sister's house in Lexington, S.C., where they continued drinking. She said she went to sleep in a little bed with stuffed animals in Bond's niece's room. She was drunk.
The versions of what happened next fluctuate. Bond claims she opened the door, the two talked, kissed and the sex was consensual. She said she never got up from the bed to open the door.
She said she woke up with Bond on top of her. Her under wire bra was pressing on her chin. He had pulled down her pajama pants and raped her, she said.
In an attempt to gain control, she said, she insulted him. She got on top of him and led him to the bathroom, where she then threatened to scream. He walked out.
"I couldn't figure out what do," she said. "I was pretty panicked. ... I couldn't come up with a game plan."
The next day, she was "a shaky mess" so she fell asleep during the day, went out drinking again and slept in the same room overnight.
DISCREDITING ALLEGED VICTIM
"You could have said that your grandmother had died or your dog was sick," Koyzora said during cross examination. "You could have come up with a reason to leave."
She said she couldn't.
"I crumbled. I was hungover and intimidated," she said. "I couldn't stick up for myself very well."
Koyzora said the defense had evidence that her "character for truthfulness" was questionable and that she was diagnosed with a personality disorder that made her less empathetic and exploitative of others. Air Force psychiatrist Lester Andrew Huff sat behind the defense taking notes.
Her story "is a fairy tale and it was made-up and refined," Koyzora said during his opening statement.
Koyzora also implied that money may be a motive for lying. The alleged victim is getting $3,134 a month from the Air Force as a disabled veteran, and about 50 percent of the disability payments were due to her diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder due to sexual trauma during her service, Koyzora said.
She said her husband's income was enough to support the family.
Koyzora said he expected to be able to provide evidence later in the trial that both the defendant and the accuser continued to communicate after the alleged rape. She didn't deny it and said that sometimes you had to "keep your friends close (and) keep your enemies closer."
But that the strategy didn't work, because Bond didn't bring up the rape again.