Once accused of sexual assault, soldier now alleged victim, he tells hearing
HEIDELBERG, Germany — Not long ago, Pfc. Kyle Emer was accused of sexual assault when another soldier told authorities she’d awakened from a drunken slumber to find Emer violating her.
Emer said the sex was consensual and the case was dismissed at a preliminary hearing.
On Tuesday, Emer was on the witness stand in another sexual assault case. This time, he was the alleged victim.
Spc. Shawn Sheppard, a military police officer with the 529th Military Police Company, is accused of preying on Emer. Sheppard is charged with indecent assault and making a false statement.
The two were roommates and had gone out drinking Aug. 31 with a group of friends, according to testimony at an Article 32 hearing Tuesday in the Patton Barracks courtroom.
When Emer awoke early the next morning after passing out on his bed, he said, someone was touching him in a sexual manner. He wasn’t sure who it was, he said, because it was dark and he was still drunk. But he thought it was Sheppard.
“I was in a state of shock,” Emer said. “I was paralyzed. I felt like I was helpless.”
But according to an opening statement Tuesday by Capt. Ingolf Maurstad, Sheppard “confessed.”
“The accused himself has told you everything you need to know in this case,” Maurstad told the hearing officer. “He confessed to fondling [Emer] to gratify his sexual desires.”
But Sheppard’s defense lawyer, Capt. Joe Venghaus, disagreed that his client’s statement was an admission of guilt. “Consent is the main issue in this case,” Venghaus said in his opening statement.
For sexual contact to be a criminal assault, Venghaus said, “It has to occur with both force and a lack of consent. … He did not manifest his lack of consent,” Venghaus said of Emer. “He let another man [touch him] for five minutes and he did nothing.”
Emer said he didn’t know exactly how long the contact had lasted. When it stopped, he said, he fled the room in his socks and boxers to seek help from a friend with a nearby room. A sergeant was called, and authorities were informed.
The defense is suggesting that Emer lied because at the time of the alleged assault he was himself a suspect in a sexual assault case and that he wanted out of the Army.
Emer, who works at the Heidelberg dental clinic, told the court that Sheppard had previously tried to “cuddle” with him, following him from the sofa to the bedroom.
“I was [annoyed],” Emer said. “I told him to stop.”
A hearing officer will determine whether there’s enough evidence in the case to proceed to court-martial and make a recommendation to higher headquarters.