Air Force doctor gets prison sentence for sexually assaulting co-worker’s daughter
Stars and Stripes March 24, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — An Air Force doctor found guilty of sexually assaulting the daughter of a colleague and several separate crimes was sentenced Friday at a court-martial to 40 months in prison.
A jury of field grade officers also found Lt. Col. William “Marty” Hilton, a urologist with the 48th Surgical Operations Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer for his actions during the assault, which occurred at his off-base home in England in August 2021.
Hilton was 53 at the time and the victim was 20. She was dog-sitting and ended up staying over after Hilton and his wife returned late from a night out drinking in London. The assault occurred in the morning on the living room couch in the couple’s home.
The jury also acquitted Hilton of two counts of assaulting a family member under the age of 16, assault of an Air Force spouse, five counts of abusive sexual contact, one instance of unlawful entry and of procuring prostitution.
At the outset of the nearly two-week trial, Hilton pleaded guilty to being drunk on duty, a separate count of unlawful entry and parts of three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.
Col. Sterling Pendleton, the chief circuit military judge for Europe, gave Hilton credit for a little more than 15 months served in pre-trial confinement at RAF Lakenheath.
Hilton faced up to 35 years in prison for the convictions. The government asked for seven years confinement while Hilton’s defense team said 11 to 14 months was warranted.
Pendleton also gave Hilton a reprimand and dismissed him from the service.
Hilton will lose his military pension. Before commissioning into the Air Force in 2002, he joined the Army out of high school as a cavalry scout and later attended West Point.
He was the chief of urology at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the Defense Department’s largest overseas hospital, before his posting to Lakenheath.
Hilton will have to register as a sex offender and is expected to lose his medical credentialing.
The trial was held at Ramstein to broaden the pool of officers for jury selection, Lakenheath legal officials said.
Four different women, two of whom were Hilton’s subordinates, testified that he touched them inappropriately in social settings. He was accused of cupping the sexual assault victim’s buttocks on a prior occasion, and doing the same to the victim’s mother three separate times, while giving them hugs.
One of the central questions posed during the trial was whether Hilton was an overly friendly officer with a habit of drinking too much alcohol at parties and acting improperly, or whether his behavior was criminal.
The doctor was described by some “as aggressively friendly, not really good with boundaries,” but not dangerous, said defense attorney Sean Mangan, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.
Lawyers for the government argued that Hilton repeatedly disregarded boundaries “to satisfy his own sexual desires.”
“He abused, harassed and assaulted those around him,” Air Force prosecutor Maj. Matthew Maurer said. “He abused his position of trust and authority.”
Hilton said that the sexual assault of the 20-year-old was instead consensual sex. He pleaded guilty to conduct unbecoming an officer for “kissing and sucking” on the victim’s neck and telling her “I’ve always wanted to get with you,” among more graphic statements.
The victim testified that she waited three months to report the assault to law enforcement because she was scared no one would believe her.
“I no longer have to hope that people will believe me, because they did,” she said during sentencing Friday. “I am proud of myself for standing in front of Lt. Col. Hilton and holding him accountable.”
Hilton also pleaded guilty to conduct unbecoming an officer for entering his neighbor’s bedroom the morning after a July 4th party near Lakenheath in 2020.
The wife of an Air Force officer was lying in bed engaged in a WhatsApp video call with her cousin. Hilton said he lifted the corner of the blanket and asked, “Are you naked under there?”
Prosecutors said in court documents that Hilton then climbed on top of her. After kicking him off the bed twice, she fled. Hilton grabbed her shoulder, chased her down the stairs and tried to swat her phone away, according to testimony.
The jury cleared Hilton of the assault and abusive sexual contact charged for the incident. The cousin the woman was speaking to said she did not see what happened but heard Hilton make the “naked” comment.
The victim later said in court that Hilton “stole my sense of security and trust of others.”
Hilton also pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful entry. Without knocking, he walked into the house of the 20-year-old sexual assault victim two days after “the sexual encounter” to pay her $40 for dog-sitting, he said in court. Hilton said he apologized at the time and told her that “I’d like to keep things between us.”
While pleading guilty for being drunk on duty in December 2021, Hilton, who had been working from home, told the court that he drank two glasses of wine with his wife at lunch before being called into the office to sign paperwork.
His wife drove him to the base, he said. When he disclosed he had been drinking, he was ordered to have blood drawn and registered a 0.138 blood alcohol content, which typically signifies more than two normal glasses of wine.
Another guilty plea for conduct unbecoming was for being drunk on multiple occasions at social events in the presence of subordinates at the 48th Medical Group.
Hilton was acquitted of assaulting his son, who was 11 at the time, for lying about not doing his homework in 2015.
He also was acquitted of offering to pay the spouse of one of his young airmen to have sex with his wife. The defense said the comment was made in jest and Hilton turned the man down when he threw out a number.
“It was drunk Marty Hilton making a fool of himself,” Mangan said. “He then gives the kid a life lecture.”
Hilton told the court during sentencing that he was an alcoholic and said he planned to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“I am sorry to everyone that I have impacted over the last three years,” Hilton said during sentencing. “I’m glad the victims could be heard.”