Army chaplain found not guilty of assaulting wife
June 9, 2006
WIESBADEN, Germany — An Army chaplain was acquitted Thursday in a court-martial at Wiesbaden Army Airfield on charges that he assaulted his wife and dislocated her collarbone.
The seven-member panel of officers found Lt. Col. Gerald Moates not guilty after less than two hours of deliberation.
The verdict Thursday came 25 years to the day after Moates became a chaplain on June 8, 1981.
In the end, the defense’s argument that Felicia Moates had accused former husbands of abuse — and that a head injury had caused memory gaps and impairment in her ability to walk — prevailed over the prosecution’s contention that Gerald Moates physically abused his wife throughout 2005.
Similar to testimony on the first day of the trial, medical experts testified on Thursday that different things could have caused Felicia Moates’ collarbone dislocation, including falls and nonaccidental causes.
The prosecution contended that Gerald Moates had pulled his wife’s arm with such ferocity her joint was dislocated. Other charges alleged he grabbed her and covered her mouth with his hand.
Medical experts testified Thursday that, theoretically, the dislocation could occur from an abrupt yank, but such occurrences were rare and that falls or collisions normally caused that kind of injury.
Herman Parker, a former husband of Felicia Moates, was flown in from North Carolina for five minutes of testimony Thursday. Felicia Moates had accused him of physical abuse after just six months of marriage, he testified, but she later recanted her accusations.
“I think she is not a truthful person,” Parker said, adding that their marriage quickly dissolved. “I was sleeping in the guest room at my own house.”
Defense attorney Guy Womack also pointed out that Felicia Moates filed lawsuits in the States and in Germany to get money from Gerald Moates after he said he was filing for divorce.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Army Capt. Abe Burgess said the panel should ignore previous marriages and focus on the injuries that Felicia Moates sustained, among other inconsistencies in the defense’s case.
But Womack countered that what happened with Felicia and Gerald Moates was similar to what happened when Felicia Moates was married to Herman Parker. Both men were arrested after Felicia Moates accused them of abuse.
“Get the correlation there,” he told the member panel. “After she gets them arrested, they leave her.”
After the verdict, Gerald Moates said the ordeal had left him torn between his pastoral duties to try and help his wife and the false accusations.
“I don’t see Felicia as a bad person,” he said. “She’s a good woman who makes some bad choices.”