Airman acquitted of rape charges, guilty of exposure
By Sig Christenson | San Antonio Express-News | Published: April 26, 2014
An Air Force photographer was acquitted Friday night of raping a woman on two occasions last year, but jurors weighing his fate found him guilty of exposing himself to a 15-year-old O'Connor High School student.
Airman 1st Class Nathan Wilson-Crow showed no emotion as the verdict came down in a trial that has run five days and continues this weekend with sentencing proceedings.
Jurors deliberated more than four hours before finding him guilty of two charges and two specifications of misconduct.
A one-time Air Force photographer of the year, Wilson-Crow was accused of twice raping the woman in 2013 as well as multiple offenses of sexual misconduct during a camping trip involving O'Connor JROTC students.
Two military lawyers defending him said the Air Force couldn't prove the camping-trip misconduct, but jurors agreed that he exposed himself to a child under 16, which carries a 15-year sentence.
The defense attorneys argued that the woman's allegations of rape were fabricated after she learned that Wilson-Crow had gotten married.
Prosecutors told the seven-member panel of officers that he manipulated young people in three separate places between April and July last year for his own sexual pleasure.
“Manipulation of people, age, authority, position, of control, isolation, alcohol — manipulation of all these things over the course of several months,” said a prosecutor, Capt. Jacob Ramer. “That's what this case is all about.”
Wilson-Crow, 22, a photographer at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman last June on a Port Aransas beach and again in July.
He denied raping the woman, whom he became friends with after they met at a San Antonio behavioral health facility. While on the Port Aransas beach last June, his car battery died and they slept in the vehicle after a day of drinking, swimming and talking.
The woman said she fell asleep after drinking six Bud Light Strawberitas. The next thing she knew, she said, he was on top of her.
“I was telling him, 'Stop!' I didn't want to do anything,” she said.
The woman told jurors Wilson-Crow held both of her hands above her head while using his other arm to pull off her pants. At one point, she said, he choked her.
They continued to see each other and had consensual sex on two occasions at his home. Days after Wilson-Crow told her he had gotten married, they went to Calaveras Lake, where witnesses said she drank 12 Strawberitas.
That night, with a group of friends sleeping in pickups parked close to each other, the woman reported being raped again. Again, she said, Wilson-Crow restrained her as they had sex and muffled her mouth when she tried to scream.
A defense lawyer, Maj. Michael Sabala, said it would have been impossible for his client, who is short and slight, to have restrained her as she fought, saying it “conjures images of a much larger man.”
Sabala said text messages showed she wanted a relationship with him. After telling her he'd gotten married, Sabala said the woman transmitted a sexually explicit photo of herself.
He also pointed to inconsistencies in her stories.
“The truth has one story,” Sabala told jurors in a 50-minute closing argument. “She has multiple stories.”