Army sergeant found guilty of adultery, not rape
January 26, 2008
DAEGU, South Korea — An Army sergeant was sentenced to loss of rank, restriction to post and hard labor after a court-martial jury found him guilty of adultery with a female private.
But Sgt. Rodrigo Valdiviagonzalez was found not guilty of raping and sodomizing the private and lying about it to investigators.
The soldier, married and a father of two, testified he had consensual sex with the woman in her Camp Walker barracks room in June.
An all-male eight-member jury of officers and senior noncommissioned officers sentenced him to reduction to pay grade E-3 from E-5, 60 days of hard labor and restriction to post.
The verdict came late Thursday night in a court-martial that began that morning before military judge Col. Donna M. Wright.
Valdiviagonzalez, a personnel specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 36th Signal Battalion, at Camp Walker, had pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, forcible sodomy, making a false official statement and adultery.
Prosecutors told the jury that Valdiviagonzalez raped the soldier June 24 after she allowed him into her room to use the bathroom. Earlier, both met for the first time at Camp Walker’s Hilltop Club, where they’d been drinking.
The woman testified that during the encounter in her room she’d been able to write and send a cell phone text message to a supervisor.
“This guy is trying to have sex with me. I don’t know what to do,” the message said, according to testimony.
She testified that when she told Valdiviagonzalez that the message was sent, he stopped, got dressed and left her room hurriedly.
Valdiviagonzalez gave a sharply different account of what occurred in the room.
He said the woman kissed him, began to undress and encouraged him sexually by saying “Come on.”
He testified they began to have consensual sex, but the act came to a quick halt when she asked if he had a condom, which he did not. He said he left the room several minutes later.
The alleged victim took the stand for nearly two hours, more than half of it a quiet but unrelenting cross-examination by defense lawyer Capt. Brian Tomasovic.
Tomasovic confronted the woman repeatedly with differences in what she’d testified on the witness stand and had earlier told investigators.
She frequently answered that she could no longer remember the events clearly enough to explain why some statements appeared at odds with others; at other times Tomasovic’s questions brought forth lengthy silences from the witness.
“I’m not sure … I don’t remember,” the woman would often answer.
“You’re not sure about a lot of things that night,” Tomasovic said to her at one point.
“I remember what I remember,” she answered.
Witnesses testified variously that after the alleged rape the woman appeared undisturbed, even upbeat, and showed no signs of physical distress or injury, and that at a later point she’d sought to have the charges dropped.
In addition, the defense called a Camp Walker physician assistant who said he examined the woman about 40 hours after the alleged rape and found no evidence of the injuries typically associated with rape. But he acknowledged some rape-related injuries can heal in that period.